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Qassam at school
Photo: Amir Cohen
Classroom hit
Photo: Amir Cohen
'A miracle'
Photo: Amir Cohen
Qassam hits Sderot school
2 rockets land in southern town area Sunday morning, one Qassam falls in empty classroom. Police, sappers arrive at place, some parents take children home. 'Rocket appeared intact, probably didn't explode,' student tells Ynet
Two Qassam rockets landed Sunday morning in the western Negev. One rocket landed near Gevim Junction south of Sderot, and two women suffered shock as a result. Another Qassam landed inside a classroom at the "Hanativ Hayeshivati" religious school in the southern town.

 

Luckily, at the time of the rocket's landing all students were at the school's synagogue for prayer service. The classroom and an adjacent toilet sustained damage.

 

Large police forces and sappers have arrived at the place shortly after the Qassam hit the school, as well as many parents who came to pick up their children and take them home.


Qassam hits school (Photo: Amir Cohen)

 

One of the students told Ynet: "We were at service and heard a shrieking sound but not an explosion. Panic broke out at the prayer hall, and we immediately ran back to the classroom. We saw the rocket inside the classroom, and it appeared almost intact. It seems it did not explode."

 

"Now there's a lot of confusion here. The principle asked us to gather at a protected area, and some of the parents have already taken their kids home," he said.

 

Niv Romemi, an 11th grade student, was standing with six other students near the door of the classroom in which the rocket fell.

 

"We finished praying and were waiting next to the door for the teacher to open the classroom, and then we suddenly heard a boom and

the fall. There was a shock wave, but there was no explosion. We panicked, and I am still in shock from what happened here. We heard the Red Alert system, but we have gotten used to hear it, so we didn’t go anywhere, although there are concrete structures in the yard which we are supposed to go to. Now we are just standing here and everyone is in shock," he recounted.

 

"Tomorrow we are supposed to have a matriculation exam in English, and there are other students who have exams today and I don’t know how we will manage after what happened here to undergo the exams at the school when you are always afraid that another rocket might fall on you," he added.

 

'My son called me in panic'

 

Many parents arrived at the school at around 9 a.m. and spoke to the school management. The parents' committee chairman, Sophie Ben Shushan, held a harsh battle in the past year to fortify the school, and the studies at the school have even been put on a strike several times as part of the battle.

 

"We are all standing here and just trembling. My son called my in panic and told me, 'mother, a Qassam fell in the classroom, get here immediately.' I ran to the school, and what we were afraid of had happened. It was a miracle that the students stayed at the praying room at the time and not in the classroom. I don’t want to think what might have happened, God forbid, if the rocket had fallen in the classroom when the students were there," she said.  

 

Ben Shushan added: "We are now deliberating whether to take students from here to the home of our defense minister, who is also a Sderot resident, or maybe to the office of the mayor which is fortified. We held a harsh battle to fortify the school, and when the budgets already arrived they started deliberating with contractors, etc, and this whole issue is stuck."

 

"It seems that only when a disaster happens here and someone is killed, someone will wake up. We call on all the officials to wake up and immediately fortify all the education institutions in Sderot and in this school," she stated.

 

The Home Front Command has so far received NIS 158 million (about USD 35 million) out of a total sum of NIS 219 million (about USD 49 million) destined for fortifying the Gaza vicinity communities.

The IDF is currently mapping the institutions destined for fortifying, including reinforced rooms and different operations related to the issue, and is transferring it to the local councils which are issuing tenders for private contractors. The last sum, of NIS 43 million (about USD 10 million), was transferred in April and was aimed at fortifying institutions for preschoolers.

 

"There is no end to fortification," an IDF official said Sunday morning. "We can block any structure with concrete from all directions, but it's not realistic economically and practically. The threat is developing, today a Qassam, tomorrow a Grad, and the day after tomorrow is could be a threat that the fortification will not be good enough for."

 

"The fortification should provide a reasonable answer. We cannot fortify any structure, and this is what we do as part of the budget we have," added.

 

Shmulik Hadad contributed to the report

 


First published: 21.05.06, 09:28
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