Kassam kills 47-year-old father of 4

Over 50 rockets fired at southern Israel; Kassam hits factory cafeteria moments after workers leave.

Kassam medics 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Kassam medics 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Shortly after a student at Sapir College in Sderot was killed and one other person was wounded by shrapnel in a Kassam rocket attack, a barrage of four Grad missiles struck the Ashkelon area. According to Channel 1, one person was wounded by shrapnel. The Sapir College casualty has been identified as Roni Yihieh, 47, of Moshav Bit'ha near Ofakim. Yehieh, a father of four, was critically wounded when a rocket hit a parking lot on the western Negev campus, and died shortly after being evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. At least five other people were reported in shock after the attack. Army Radio reported that everyone present on the college campus was being shepherded into sheltered areas. College officials have decided to hold classes as scheduled on Thursday, despite earlier reports that studies might be put on hold. David Barnan, head of the college's students association, said he ran to the scene of the explosion and was shocked. "I can't put it into words," he told Army Radio. Barnan demanded that the government carry out its pledges to reinforce buildings at the college, but he remained defiant. "This is our country," he said. "We will stay alive, we continue our studies, we will continue to do all the things we need to do, and speaking for myself, I can say we're not afraid of anyone." At least 50 Kassam rockets were launched at southern Israel Wednesday afternoon and early evening from the Gaza Strip. The rocket that struck the college was one of a barrage of six, two of which landed in Sderot. One rocket hit and caused severe damage to a residential building in the city's Neveh Eshkol neighborhood. No one was wounded. Earlier, a salvo of 11 rockets slammed into Sderot, sending four people into shock. One rocket hit a factory cafeteria, moments after some 120 workers had left the room, causing severe damage. The factory's owner, Meir Cohen, told Channel 10 that the building had been constructed in the 1960s and had no fortified rooms. Cohen said he had asked the relevant authorities to install protective measures, but that his requests had gone unanswered. "These people, who mostly work for minimum wage, just want to bring bread home to their families," he said. "What does [the state] want from them?" he demanded. "Israel will be diligent in our efforts to put an end to these lethal rocket attacks. Those firing rockets at our civilians will know neither rest nor have any respite from the measures we will take to stop these attacks," said David Baker, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. A group known as the Abu Rish Brigades, an extremist branch of Fatah, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon in which it claimed responsibility for Wednesday afternoon's rocket attacks. An Army Radio commentator explained that Fatah has cut ties with the Abu Rish Brigades, and that some of its members are working with Hamas in Gaza. Hamas, meanwhile, issued its own statement claiming responsibility for launching the rocket that hit Sapir College. Both groups said that the attacks were a response to IAF strikes in the Gaza Strip, one of which killed five Hamas operatives.