"Israel isn't willing to accept a 'Terror Strip,' next to it, and so Hamas is tasting the Israeli response," President Shimon Peres said during a visit to Ashkelon on Wednesday. Whilst alarms sounded and rockets fell nearby, Peres sat with Ashkelon children in a public bomb shelter on the fifth day of IDF Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. "Despite the warnings," he told the children, "We're not scared. Let's keep playing and singing. We're protected in this shelter, and we have a great, strong army protecting us." Commenting on the Grad-type rocket which struck a Beersheba school on Wednesday morning, Peres said that "it was lucky no children were at school this morning, and that no children were wounded." The president also visited Israelis wounded in the latest barrage of Palestinian rocket attacks at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital, saying, "We're all proud of the IDF, and of the civilian population. This isn't the first time that Israel has been attacked and I believe that we can operate in the correct way to bring quiet to the Gaza-belt communities." At the end of his visit, Peres thanked Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin for his city's "strength and optimism" in such trying days.