Gaza shell kills kibbutz father of 3

Barak visits Nir Oz factory where Amnon Rosenberg was killed, says Gaza op likely to precede truce.

nir oz mortar 224 (photo credit: AP)
nir oz mortar 224
(photo credit: AP)
As night fell on Thursday, Kibbutz Nirim, just east of Gaza, celebrated the wedding of one member and mourned a second. Amnon Rozenberg, 51, a father of three, was killed earlier in the day when a mortar shell hit the nearby Nirlat paint factory at Kibbutz Nir Oz. "Sorrow and joy live here together," said kibbutz member Dedi Rubinstein as he sat on the lawn behind Rozenberg's home. As friends encircled Rozenberg's wife, Tal, and his daughter Yarden, 12, mortar fire could be heard in the distance. The danger hanging over the pastoral kibbutz, three kilometers east of the central Gaza Strip, could not be described, Rubinstein said, it could only be felt by living there. For seven years the kibbutz and other Gaza border communities have lived with the rocket fire and the mortar shells, and most of their homes, including the Rozenberg's, are unprotected against the attacks. Regional council leaders tried to convey this experience and their anger about it to Defense Minister Ehud Barak when he visited the paint factory earlier in the day. "Gaza's day of reckoning is likely approaching," Barak said. "The military operation is closer than ever, and it will likely precede the cease-fire." But Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council chairman Alon Shoster, Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin, and the residents of Nirim and Kibbutz Nir Oz who talked with Barak were not satisfied. "I am not prepared to bury more people. The government is not doing anything and from my point of view, is is almost nonexistent," Yalin said. "A country cannot continue to be run like this," he continued. "We have already heard hundreds of times the declaration that the Gaza Strip's day of reckoning is approaching." The mortar fire is particularly disturbing because there are no warning sirens. Factory workers said they went outside after hearing the first two mortar shells strike, and then the third hit. Hamas claimed responsibility for the shelling and pledged to "continue to strike at Zionist military locations and settlement colonies around the Gaza Strip as a response to the aggression against our people." Four workers were wounded and evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Several people went into shock and were treated by Magen David Adom medics at the scene. Defense officials said the situation in Gaza and the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire would be the focus of a security cabinet meeting that would likely convene on Sunday after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's return from Washington. In a limited response that failed to deter additional mortar fire from Gaza later in the day, the IAF bombed the area near Khan Yunis from where the fatal mortar was fired. Palestinian doctors said a six-year-old girl was killed and her mother was wounded. The army said it had targeted and hit a terrorist. Hamas said the IAF missile missed a group of gunmen and struck a nearby house, and that the girl who was killed was playing outside. The members of kibbutzim Nirim and Nir Oz feel helpless. "What can we say that has not been said," asked Kibbutz Nir Oz head Haim Peri. Rubinstein said Rozenberg had a black belt in karate and had taught self-defense to children. He also volunteered with the civilian border patrol. He was the kind of man who loved to help people, he said. They knew each other for 30 years. "We are a strong community. We refuse to accept that this is the reality," Rubinstein said as he walked away. Rozenberg also leaves two sons, Dor 27, and Eldar 22. He will be buried at 11 a.m. on Friday. AP contributed to this report.