The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Kassam attack on Sderot that wounded two ninth-grade boys, one critically, on Tuesday evening. The rocket was the seventh to have been fired at Sderot since Tuesday morning. Shortly after 10 p.m., the Red Alert alarm sounded throughout Sderot; 10 seconds later, the rocket landed near a group of schoolchildren who were headed for the nearest shelter. Ninth-graders Matan Cohen and Adir Bassad, however, had no time to reach the shelter and were hit by shrapnel.
Background: Just a matter of time before the next attack
The two were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where doctors began operating.
Following the attack, Defense Minister Amir Peretz called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and urged him to change Israel's restraint policy.
Peretz plans to convene defense officials for a consultation on the situation on Wednesday.
"We cannot continue to restrain ourselves," Peretz told the prime minister. "We cannot let Islamic Jihad do whatever they want, and we need to take action to stop the Kassams."
Doctors told an Israel Radio interviewer shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday that Bassad, who suffered hits to his chest and stomach, was not yet stabilized, and a surgical team was battling to save his life.
Cohen, whose major wound was to his leg, was reported stabilized.
A number of other people were reported in shock.
One of the medics who treated the boys reported that one of them was likely to lose his legs. One of the boys had a bone sticking out of one of his legs, he said, and the other's ankle was completely twisted.
Meanwhile, the scene outside was chaotic as agitated residents came out of their homes to survey the damage. Cars windows were smashed, and the upstairs windows of homes in the vicinity were completetly shattered.
Frustration and anger were the prevailing emotions at the scene of the attack.
"Our children are getting hurt over here and nobody's doing anything about this," one resident shouted.
"We can't go out anywhere, not to the shopping mall, or anywhere," another resident said.
Others vented their anger at the press members who were covering the incident. "You guys are going to interview us and maybe show a minute or two, but you don't really feel our pain," one resident accused.
Earlier in the afternoon, Palestinians fired a Kassam from the northern Gaza Strip that landed in an open area of the Sha'ar Hanegev region. No one was wounded, and no damage was caused. The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, a group of Israeli ambassadors and consuls to European nations were due to tour Sderot on Tuesday and view firsthand the damage caused by the continual rocket fire.
Early Tuesday morning, four Kassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Sderot. Three rockets fell in open territory outside the city, causing neither casualties nor damage, while one landed near the Sderot home of a former resident of the Gaza settlement Elei Sinai.
A total of 62 rockets have been fired at Israel since the Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire was declared in November.