2 wounded as rockets continue to fall

Casualties in light condition as 20 rockets hit Israel Saturday; Barak: Situation won't go on for long.

kassam victim 224.88 (photo credit: )
kassam victim 224.88
(photo credit: )
Fighting between the IDF and Hamas gunmen escalated over the weekend, after a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the northern Gaza Strip was killed by a mortar shell on Friday evening. Jimmy Kedoshim, 48, was fatally wounded by a mortar shell as he was gardening in his front yard. Hamas radio announced Friday night that the group took responsibility for the attack. On Saturday, the Islamist group fired more than 20 rockets at the western Negev, wounding several people and damaging numerous buildings and courtyard areas, after five Hamas gunmen were killed and six wounded in air strikes on Hamas police stations in Khan Yunis and Rafah, the IDF said. The army said it "targeted and identified hitting two posts of the Hamas terrorist organization in the southern Gaza Strip." The strikes were carried out following the continuous firing of rockets and mortar shells at Israeli communities in the western Negev, the IDF said. Kedoshim's funeral will be held at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday at the Kfar Aza cemetery. Kedoshim, a national champion in engine-powered paragliding, first came to the kibbutz 30 years ago as a member of a youth group and later settled there, marrying and fathering three children. This is the first death caused by mortar fire since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. It raised the death toll to more than a dozen Israelis killed by projectile fire. Three others were wounded in the attack on Kfar Aza, one moderately and two lightly. Magen David Adom teams treated a number of people for shock, and several buildings were damaged. Two people were lightly wounded from shrapnel on Saturday evening when two Kassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit Sderot. Earlier, two Sderot residents were treated for shock as rockets hit the Sha'ar Hanegev region. One Kassam damaged a building at Sapir Academic College outside Sderot, and another hit next to a synagogue, according to military sources. A third rocket struck a home in Sderot. The remaining rockets hit open areas. Hamas's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, claimed responsibility for the Saturday morning rocket fire, saying it came in response to IAF attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza overnight. On Friday, three Kassam rockets and four mortar shells hit the western Negev. One man was lightly wounded and was taken to Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital. A vehicle was also damaged by a rocket in the Ashkelon area. The fighting threatened Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire on the Gaza-Israel border. Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza on Saturday, meeting with with Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Shoster, Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yelin, MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and kibbutz members. Hermesh and the two council heads told Barak that something needed to be done about the constant mortar and Kassam fire in the region. They said they believed that the solution to the problem was an "aggressive weapon" that would protect against the various types of Kassams and mortar shells. "The residents should not be expected to be in the line of fire," the three politicians said, "and the citizens can't be the ones to give an answer." Barak assured them that "the situation will not continue for long," Army Radio reported. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked Hermesh on Friday to express his condolences to members of the kibbutz, the MK told Israel Radio. In Gaza, Palestinian officials said they turned off two of three turbines at a power plant that provides electricity to hundreds of thousands of Gazans. Energy official Kaanan Obeid said Israel - the sole supplier of Gaza's fuel - hadn't provided enough diesel to run the power plant. An IDF spokesman said Israel didn't deliver as much fuel as planned to Gaza this week because Palestinians attacked the Nahal Oz crossing, which Israel used to deliver the diesel. It was not immediately clear if the power station had actually run out of fuel or whether Hamas wanted to exaggerate the impression of crisis. Government spokesman David Baker denied Israel was to blame for the electricity cutback. "Israel continues to supply fuel and vital humanitarian goods to Gaza," Baker said. "There is no logical reason for this fuel plant to be shut down. This is another example of Hamas orchestrating an artificial crisis for its own political aims, and once again Hamas is showing a complete disregard for the welfare of the Palestinian people." In the West Bank, nine Palestinians were shot in clashes with IDF troops after youths threw rocks and firebombs at army jeeps, medics said. A military spokeswoman said the violence broke out after Palestinian youths in Jaba noticed that a military jeep had broken down. The attacks continued after reinforcements were called in for the disabled patrol, and soldiers responded by firing live rounds in the air, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, she said. AP contributed to this report