IAF copter cool 224.88.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
Gaza terrorists resumed their rocketing of southern Israeli civilian areas on Wednesday, firing two Kassams that hit the Eshkol region in the morning, two rockets in the late afternoon and another Kassam in the late evening.
A Kassam rocket hit an open area near a kibbutz in the Sha'ar Hanegev region at approximately 11 p.m.
A mortar shell fired shortly before 6 p.m. landed between two chicken coops in a kibbutz in the Sha'ar Hanegev area, causing some damage.
Another rocket landed in an open field in the Eshkol region, causing no damage.
The Kassam rockets fired in the morning hit open areas, causing no damage.
No casualties were caused in any of the instances.
Late Tuesday night, IAF planes bombed two arms smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, just hours after another air strike wounded three members of a rocket squad in the Strip.
The IDF confirmed both air strikes, saying that they were in response to continued Palestinian rocket fire against southern Israel. According to the army, the first strike took place just moments after terrorists had launched their Kassam rockets.
A total of four rockets hit Israel on Tuesday, the IDF said. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
Since Israel called off its offensive in Gaza in late January, and Hamas also declared a cease-fire, more than 100 rockets have been fired at Israel, according to the IDF.
Israel has routinely retaliated by bombing smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border and targeting Hamas weapons stores. Air strikes on terrorists have been less frequent.
Meanwhile, Sderot opened a heavily fortified indoor playground on Tuesday that will give its traumatized children a safe place to play.
The converted warehouse is equipped with a half dozen shelters and an emergency broadcast system giving the kids a 15-second warning of incoming rockets.
The protected facility, with a mini-soccer field, video games and a climbing wall, received a warm welcome from residents.
"It's an amazing thing. Until now, only the house and school were safe," said Pesah Hajbi, a 43-year-old father of three. But he added, "It's cold comfort. If they don't stop firing, at least there is a safe place to play."
Also Tuesday, Channel 10 TV aired a report about a new method of protecting Sderot buildings, using a spray-on material developed for the Dimona nuclear reactor. The report showed a worker spraying the orange material on the inside of a kindergarten.
A test explosion showed a wall badly damaged from the outside but intact inside, because the material absorbed the blow.
The $5 million safe recreation center, funded by the Jewish National Fund-US, is surrounded by anti-shock wave walls, painted in blue, yellow, green and red. Nearly 2,000 square meters in size, it has room for 500 people.
It is divided into two areas - one for infants and toddlers and the other for children in elementary and high school. It will also be used by seniors during morning hours and can be converted into a disco at night.
Children in costumes celebrating Purim roamed the complex on Tuesday, playing in a mock shopping mall for dolls, jumping on an inflatable trampoline and playing foosball and air hockey.
One kid, dressed as Spiderman, excitedly ascended the climbing wall. Teenagers found an outlet for their frustrations, pounding away at the hanging punching bags.
"Today, we bring back the childhood to the children of Sderot, and let them feel like other children all over the world," said Sderot Mayor David Buskila.
Psychologists will be on the site for intervention with children and families in need, and a medical station will also be available.
JNF President Stanley Chesley said the idea for the rocket-proof playground came during his last visit to the town, when he realized that the children of Sderot were holed up in their homes.
He boasted that the new center was now "the country's safest building." The sounds of children laughing and yelling drowned out his speech.
"We want to hear this kind of noise all the time," he said, smiling.
Sderot resident Devora Biton, 43, said Tuesday's outing was the first time she relaxed enough to let her 4-year-old daughter Noam run around and play freely with other kids. Biton said coming to the playground was liberating for her as well.
"It gives a sense of security. Out on the street you are tense all the time and can't let your kids go far," she said. "The house is like a prison. We try to make it nice, but it still feels like a prison."
Even so, she said she had mixed feelings, because the indoor playground is necessary.
"It makes me happy but also sad," she said. "I'm glad the kids will have a place to go, but it means the kids will have to live under a reinforced roof, rather that play outside as they should."