SDEROT – Palestinian terrorists fired eight Qassam rockets at the southern town of Sderot and its vicinity on Friday.
No injuries were reported in the latest barrage.
One of the rockets landed in Sderot’s Neve Eshkol neighborhood, causing slight damage to a house in the area. Another rocket landed near a school in the town, while the others apparently landed in open areas.
Angry residents were planning to stage a demonstration against the continued attacks later Friday. Dozens of locals already demonstrated in the town’s center Friday morning and burned tires to protest the rocket barrages directed at the town.
Police and fire fighters called to the scene dispersed the demonstrators
The Salach al-Din Companies, the military faction of the Popular Resistance Committees, have claimed responsibility for the most recent Qassam attack on Sderot.
The organization said in a statement the attacks were launched in response to Israeli violations of the cease-fire, including the targeted killing of
seven Hamas members in Gaza and the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Palestinians fired at least 18 mortar shells at Gaza Strip communities early Friday. Most shells landed in the southern Gaza Strip and caused no injuries or damage.
IAF strikes back
The Israel Air Force hit early Friday morning two buildings operated by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesman said. One of the targets was a weapons storehouse in Khan Younis while the other the group's office, located in the Jebalya refugee came.
However, Palestinian eyewitnesses reported seeing gunships carrying out five air strikes in the Strip, including a hit on a Hamas-related charity in Khan Younis and a building in central Gaza's Dir al-Balah area.
The IDF has also decided to divide the Gaza Strip into three pieces in order to make it harder for Palestinian terrorist groups to attack settlements and Israeli towns.
The air strikes follow the death of Dana Gelkovitch, 22, who was killed in a Qassam rocket attack Thursday afternoon on Netiv Ha’asara, north of Gaza’s Erez crossing. Terrorists had fired four rockets at the community.
The woman was killed after sustaining shrapnel wounds to her head while sitting on the balcony, after the rocket hit the house.
Death from above
Paramedic Yevgeni Shulman, who was the first on the scene, said he saw the house sustained a direct hit and was badly damaged.
“When we approached the house we saw to our regret that the young female was lying there. It wasn’t possible to resuscitate her but merely to pronounce her dead,” he told Ynet.
The owner of the house said that the death of the woman could have been prevented if the roof had been reinforced. Money for such precautions has been a source of dispute with the Defense Ministry for eight months.
"I always asked (for help) from the Defense Ministry, but they said that there was no budget for it. I said that someone would get killed, and then the budget would come – and now someone was killed."
Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Fatah?
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah all claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Palestinian sources in Gaza initially said that the Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket barrage.
By contrast, IDF officials believe Hamas is behind the attack and, indeed, PA police officers were wounded in an exchange with members of the group.
Fatal rocket launched from Beit Hanoun
Palestinian terrorists fired at least 21 mortar shells and Qassam rockets Thursday afternoon. Four of them landed in an IDF base in the northern Gaza Strip and damaged a structure in the area.
The rocket that killed Gelkovitch was launched from the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. Terrorists have often used the area to launch rocket attacks on Israeli communities.
This time, though, Palestinian security officers surrounded the terrorists involved in the rocket attacks and traded gunfire with them. Four PA cops and one Hamas terrorist were wounded in the exchange -- provoking harsh criticism of the PA from the Islamist movement.
Still, the incident did not prevent three other mortar shells from landing in a northern Gaza Strip settlement and another Qassam rocket falling in an Israeli Kibbutz near Gaza.
Early Thursday, two mortar shells landed in Gush Katif while a Qassam rocket hit an educational institute at the outskirts of the southern town of Sderot.
In response to the Palestinian artillery barrage, the Yesha Council called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to immediately “stop his inexplicable rush to carry out his plan of uprooting and expulsion.”
“If Sharon were to invest as much energy in security for Israel and the war on terror that he is investing for his expulsion plan then surely our security situation would be much better,” the Council’s statement said.
Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) said following the deadly Qassam rocket attack, “What does (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon anticipate will happen after the disengagement? Any intelligent person can see the situation would only get worse.”
Ali Waked contributed to this report