Rocket hits Ashdod kindergarten

None wounded in empty building; Sderot, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, Eshkol regions also hit.

Beersheba car rocket damage 248 ap (photo credit: AP)
Beersheba car rocket damage 248 ap
(photo credit: AP)
A kindergarten wall in Ashdod was struck by a Grad rocket fired from Gaza on Sunday afternoon, leaving ten people in shock and the facility heavily damaged. "Thankfully, no children were in the kindergarten, and no one was badly hurt," a police officer said. "The rocket fell in a built-up area. One person developed chest pains following the blast," Ami Ivgi, Head of Magen David Adom in the Lachish district told The Jerusalem Post. Earlier, air raid sirens rang out in Ashkelon to warn residents of an incoming rocket. The projectile landed in open territory, causing no injuries or damage. Two Grads were fired at Beersheba during the morning hours. One rocket struck and destroyed a parked car, and the second brought down a power line. By the evening hours, 16 rockets were fired at southern Israel, and paramedics had evacuated four lightly injured people to hospital. Thirty nine people were treated for shock. The Eshkol and Sha'ar Henegev Regional Councils were targeted during the day, as was Sderot, where a rocket hit a house next to an empty school. No one was hurt, but some damage caused. As the rocket fire on the south continued, albeit on a smaller scale compared to earlier days, the Home Front Command dispatched officials to schools and tasked them with finding safe areas for pupils to study in. On Saturday evening, local authorities were given the green light by the Home Front Command to begin a gradual return to studies, leaving local officials to decide on how to implement the return to school. In Ashkelon, Mayor Benny Vaknin has so far ruled that only 12th-graders facing matriculation exams could go back to school. Home Front Command Lachish District Head Col. Yaakov Amar, and Aryeh Ohion, Ashkelon municipality's Security Officer for Educational Facilities, spent over five hours visiting all eight of the city's major schools, where they gave instructions on where pupils were permitted to study. Ashkelon has a total of 1,400 12th-graders out of a total of 24,000 pupils. "The official guidelines say that two ceilings must separate pupils from the open sky," Amar said, "meaning that students can sit on the ground floor of a two-story building. But we are being extra-cautious: We want at least three ceilings over a pupil's head, meaning they must have two floors above them," he added. Despite the stringent guidelines, and Amar's decision to rule out any classrooms facing southward, the direction from which rockets fall, Amar and Ohion had no trouble locating enough safe classrooms and bomb shelters for 12th-graders to use. At the Henry Ronson middle and high school building, which houses 1,800 pupils during peacetime, Amar and Ohion were given a tour by the school's manager, Menachem Nunberg. A large banner draped across the empty hallway showed pictures of historic peace treaties being signed by Israeli and Arab leaders, and carried the slogan, "The path of peace is better than the path of war." Overhead, warplanes and military helicopters roared overhead on their way to and from Gaza. "This is the Jewish Studies room, and next door we have the Land of Israel studies room," Nunberg said, leading the officials through two underground rooms deemed safe for use by Amar. Photographs of Menachem Begin and David Ben-Gurion adorned the walls. "This is an enemy who does not acknowledge defeat," Nunberg, who spent 27 years in the military, told the Post, referring to Hamas. "Sane people would end this and seek to live in peace. But they are programmed for fighting," he added.