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Qassam rocket (Archive photo)
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Suppliers afraid. Ashkelon
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Southern residents: Shelling worse than Qassams
Gaza vicinity communities wake up to another day of anxiety, after Palestinians fire six Qassam rockets from northern Strip; 'we have accepted daily barrage, but IDF's artillery fire has become a nightmare,' locals say
A barrage of six Qassam rockets was fired Thursday morning from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel. One rocket fell at sea, another landed at the hothouses area of the southern community of Nativ Haasara, and the rest landed in the area between Kibbutz Karmiya and Kibbutz Zikim, south of Ashkelon.

 

There were no reports of injuries or damage in all incidents. On Wednesday evening, another rockets landed near a military base at the Kibbutz Nahal Oz area.

 

In response to the fire, IDF soldiers bombarded launching sites.

 

More than 20 Qassam rockets were fired at Israel during the Pesach holiday, and Southern Command sources stressed in a conversation with Ynet Thursday that the IDF's response pattern, which was formulated several weeks ago, is not about to change. "This is not an operation with a defined beginning and end, but a change in policy that is a step up in terms of the different means used," a Command source said.

 

'IDF shelling a nightmare'

 

The IDF fired some 1,480 shells at the northern Gaza Strip last week, out of a total of 4,000 shells fired since the massive action against Qassam cells was launched three weeks ago.

 

The blasts were well heard at the Gaza vicinity communities, and the resident once again woke up to a morning of anxiety.

 

"Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to know whether the noise is an IDF shelling, which has become a nightmare for us and is no longer helpful, or Qassams, which we have already accepted," one of the residents told Ynet.

 

The residents have already despaired by the army's retaliation fire against launching sites, and they testify that the rockets are launched quite often during the artillery fire.

 

Nativ Haasara residents recently met with IDF officials in the area and expressed their frustration over the fire, which they said paralyzes their lives. The artillery fire has already caused cracks in some of the houses.

 

Residents of Nahal Oz also expressed their fury and frustration over the situation in a meeting with the commander of the division responsible for the shelling.

 

Industrialists concerned

 

Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mehatzri approached Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the matter and expressed his special concern after Qassams hit the sensitive industrial zone recently.

 

The industrialists in the area plan on holding a special discussion in the coming days with Mehatzri and senior municipality officials. Many of them spoke about suppliers who are afraid to come to the area and of damages caused to their businesses.

 

Large factories are located at Ashkelon's southern industrial zone, including essential infrastructure plants. The defense establishment promised to hold a separate discussion on the issue soon.

 

Responding to these claims, IDF sources said Thursday that the artillery attacks on Gaza are one of the most effective means in the war against Qassam launchers, and that the use of shelling even increased recently, in wake of the escalation in operations against the threat on the southern Israeli communities.

 

"The shelling disrupts the cells' operations and prevents Qassam fire in some of the cases," army officials explained, adding that the IDF's activity would be extended and require patience, which will eventually yield results.

 

"We are aware of the nuisance and noise caused by the shelling, but when you weigh it against the alternative of deserting the residents to Qassam threat, we will obviously opt for defending the residents," an official concluded.

 

Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report

 


First published: 20.04.06, 08:58
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