kassam disposal 298 88.
(photo credit: AP)
Despite the intensified IDF action, seven Kassam rockets landed in the western Negev and south of Ashkelon Thursday. Most of them landed in open areas, but one slammed into a Sderot home, spraying shrapnel and starting a fire.
One man was lightly wounded by flying glass in the center of Sderot, and a woman was lightly wounded, also by shrapnel, in the western Negev. Four other people were suffering from shock.
The Sderot parents association declared a boycott Thursday morning, saying the town's schools were not safe from the Kassams, Army Radio reported.
Later, the IDF Home Front Command ordered schools closed in frontline communities. Lessons will only be permitted reinforced classrooms to withstand mortar and rocket attack.
A senior officer in the Southern Command said soldiers had reported 20 gunmen killed since Operation Autumn Clouds was launched.
The officer said troops were moving at will from building to building, arresting terrorist suspects and seizing weapons caches, including several antitank missiles and night vision equipment. He said the operation would continue until its objectives were achieved.
IAF helicopter gunships fired missiles at a group of 10 armed Palestinians early Thursday morning, the army said.
Palestinian Authority officials said two gunmen and a 75-year-old man were killed in the incident.
Palestinian sources said more than 35 people were wounded in the fighting, 15 of them when an IDF tank shell hit a building.
15 men between the ages of 16 and 40 were rounded up for questioning, the IDF said.
IAF helicopters also destroyed a Kassam rocket launcher ready for use, the army said.
Two soldiers wounded by shrapnel were evacuated under fire to the Barzilai Medical Center.
Also Thursday, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) called on Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz to resign, saying Halutz had been unable to reestablish the army's deterrence in the face of the growing threat from Iran.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Ben-Eliezer criticized Halutz's leadership and said his decision not to dismiss the four divisional commanders who directed the ground war in Lebanon showed he was "out of touch."
In a closed door meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz asked Halutz to explain recent recommendations on appointments for the army's divisional-level commanders.
According to a senior security official, Peretz said he would continue to review the proposed appointments.
According to security sources, Peretz blames the four division commanders for operational shortcomings and command inadequacies during the summer's fighting with Hizbullah. Also, the defense minister is reportedly unhappy with the General Staff for making the recommendations public without his authorization.