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(photo credit: AP)
Since the onset of IAF Saturday's air strikes on Hamas in Gaza, Palestinians fired over 150 rockets and mortar shells at areas throughout the western Negev. In Netivot, 58-year-old Beber Vaknin was killed on Saturday and five people were wounded - one seriously - when their house was hit by a rocket.
All the wounded were evacuated to Beersheba's Soroka Hospital.
"After the first rocket landed, people wanted to see what had happened," one of Vaknin's neighbors told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. "He went outside to look around when the rocket hit, and he was killed by the shrapnel. The medics said the shrapnel pierced his heart."
Vaknin was unmarried and held a clerical position in the southern town.
"He was a solitary, elderly guy," the neighbor continued. "He has brothers, one here in Netivot, but otherwise, he didn't have any family."
Later a rocket hit a house in the community of Mivtahim, seriously wounding one person and lightly wounding another. A Magen David Adom team treated them at the scene.
In Ashkelon, at least 10 rocket strikes were reported, with one hitting an apartment building. For the first time ever, a Kassam rocket struck Kiryat Gat. The "Color Red" warning siren also sounded in Ashdod, although no rockets were reported to have landed there.
Nobody was hurt in any of the other attacks. Israeli citizens living within a 20-kilometer radius of Gaza were ordered to remain indoors as Kassam warning systems blared throughout the area.
A tense calm fell over Sderot on Saturday night, with residents remaining indoors and on high alert.
"We've heard the 'Color Red' siren a couple of times today, but in general it's been quiet here in the last few hours," Sderot Municipality spokesman Shalom Helevi told the Post on Saturday night. "Some Kassams have landed nearby, but in open fields, and no damage has been reported."
"We're following the instructions of the security forces and Home Front Command," Helevi continued. "Residents are aware that in this range, they have 15-17 seconds to get themselves to a secure room, while residents who live closer to the Strip - within four and a half kilometers - have even less time. But the people of Sderot know quite well how to handle this situation; we've been living it for eight years, and I can tell you that we absolutely support the IDF operation in the clearest terms, and are willing to suffer the consequences of rocket fire here in Sderot as long as the army is working to bring an end to it. It's about time we acted, and the residents of Sderot are ready for anything."
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog appeared on Channel 2 Saturday night and warned residents of the South that they should expect further rocket fire.
"There will be more rockets in the coming days," Almog said. "Hamas has hundreds of defined positions - some of which we've already hit, some of which we have not - and they will try to regroup and mount a response with increased rocket fire on the country's south."
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