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kassam incredible 298.88.(Photo by: AP)
Grad-type Katyusha lands in Netivot area
JPost staff and Ehud Zion Waldoks
Rocket was one of 4 to hit region; mortar shell strikes w. Negev home; none hurt in either incident.
A Grad-type Katyusha rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed several hundred meters from a residential area in Netivot on Sunday morning. The rocket, one of four to land in the western Negev, was the first to land in the Netivot area since Palestinian terrorists started firing rockets at Israel. Defense officials said that the rocket was Russian-made and had a range of 20 kilometers. No one was wounded and no damage was reported as a result of the rocket barrage. Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar said that his request to fortify the town's education institutions was turned down since Netivot is located 11 kilometers from the Gaza Strip - one kilometer outside the area that qualifies for fortification. Zohar told Israel Radio that he would not activate the Red Dawn early warning system because he did not want to disrupt the daily routine of the town's residents. The firing of Katyusha rockets from Gaza is rare but not unprecedented, In May, the Islamic Jihad fired a Katyusha from northern Gaza that struck a coop in Moshav Netiv Ha'asara, killing 30 chickens. The defense establishment said that there had been four other failed attempts to fire Grad-type Katyushas from Gaza, adding that terror groups were continuously trying to improve their rockets. Government officials told Israel Radio that Israel viewed the Katyusha attack "severely." MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) warned residents of Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Kfar Saba to "awake from their slumber" before the political concessions of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Vice Premier Haim Ramon bring missiles to their homes. "The prime minister must act decisively to eradicate the rockets from the South instead of offering [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas further withdrawals to the center the country," added Steinitz. MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP) said that the government's restraint in the face of Kassam fire on Sderot had led to Katyushas and that "a government that divides Jerusalem will cause a Grad missile to hit the Knesset." Olmert also came under criticism from his own party, with MK Shai Hermesh calling on him to "fulfill the promise he made in January and protect western Negev homes." Hermesh emphasized that with Katyusha rocket fire, citizens did not have the 15-second warning they had in the case of Kassam fire and had no basic protection for their homes. Also Sunday morning, an empty art studio was almost completely burnt when one of eight mortar shells fired from Gaza hit Kibbutz Kerem Shalom. No one was wounded. Kibbutz secretary Ilan Regev said that dozens of mortars had hit the kibbutz recently but that this was the first time a building had been hit. He added that there were fortified rooms in the kibbutz but no warning system against mortar shells. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the mortar attack. The IDF said it viewed mortar fire no less severely than Kassam fire, and that since Hamas took control of Gaza, the number of mortar shells fired had increased.
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