'Special situation' declared for Sderot

Ministers approve move in telephone vote; IAF kills 3 in Gaza after rocket barrage hurts one.

kassam warehouse 224.88 (photo credit: TALIA DEKEL)
kassam warehouse 224.88
(photo credit: TALIA DEKEL)
Hours after a Kassam rocket slammed through the roof of a house in Sderot Thursday, wounding one woman, the Defense Ministry decided Friday to declare a "special situation" for communities on the Gaza periphery. The move was approved by cabinet ministers in a telephone vote and grants the army authority to make emergency decisions concerning civilian institutions in Sderot and other communities on the Gaza border. Defense Minister Ehud Barak recommended that the declaration remain effective until March 2008. A similar order expired roughly one month ago. Following the missile barrage on Thursday, three Palestinians - including a known weapons dealer - were killed in an IAF strike in Gaza City, and three armed operatives were killed in what the IDF said was a targeted strike against a Kassam-firing unit. Also Thursday, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal - who resigned suddenly from his post Wednesday citing his frustration with the lack of government interest in Sderot's plight - rescinded his resignation. Moyal, who dramatically resigned during a live radio interview, said following a meeting with Barak that he would remain in office. Moyal said that Barak had requested him to return to head the beleaguered municipality, and Moyal explained he was loathe to ignore the defense minister's "order." Meanwhile, the western Negev city continued to take hit after hit from Kassam strikes. Local residents reported an exceptionally loud impact minutes after "Color Red" alerts were sounded in the evening. Emergency response teams rushed to the scene of the impact to find that the rocket launched in the Gaza Strip had crashed through the un-reinforced tile roof of Aliza Amar's house, situated in a crowded area of Rehov Sinai. Municipality spokesman Yossi Cohen said the Kassam struck "exactly the house that we meant when we petitioned the Supreme Court yesterday," referring to the petition submitted by local residents to ensure that the government would subsidize the reinforcement of private buildings in the city. One woman, in her forties, was hurt in the attack, but was reported by MDA teams to be conscious and in stable condition as they rushed her to Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center for treatment. She was hospitalized in moderate-to-good condition, according to hospital representatives. MDA teams also encountered a large number of bystanders suffering from shock, and took three of them to Barzilai as well for more advanced treatment. Earlier in the day, a number of rockets fell in the area, although nowhere near the almost two dozen fired by Palestinian terrorists one day earlier. One Kassam exploded in an orchard that belongs to one of the nearby kibbutzim, and at 7:30 a.m., "Color Red" sirens were sounded in Sderot after IDF look-outs registered two rockets fired toward the western Negev town.