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Fragments of Qassam
Photo: Amir Cohen
צילום: אחיה ראב"ד
Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mehatzri
Photo: Ahiya Raved
צילום: אלון נוריאל
Minister Yitzhak Cohen
Photo: Alon Nuriel
צילום: ירון ברנר
MK Gideon Saar
Photo: Yaron Brenner
Ashkelon: 120,000 residents under threat
Ashkelon's mayor says his city faces new and unfamiliar situation, but adds daily routine must be kept, summer courses in schools will go on as normal
Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mehatzri addressed the Qassam attack on the heart of his city, saying that "this is a new and unfamiliar situation, one we do not wish to get to know better."

 

He added that "a city with 120,000 people is not supposed to live under a threat of rockets."

 

Mehatzri arrived at the scene of the Qassam rocket attack, examined the rocket, and spoke with local residents.

 

The mayor added that he plans on holding a city council meeting to discuss the implication of the incident. "Schools in the city are not protected, according to the situation analyses received by professional sources. I don’t want to discuss the rocket's range, but there's no doubt that we have a new situation on our hands."

 

This is the first time a Qassam rocket landed in Ashkelon, landing on site containing many schools. Police believe that rocket was fitted with a number of engines and therefore managed to reach deep into Ashkelon.

 

It seems the rocket was fired from northern Gaza, from the area of the former settlement of Dugit which has recently turned into a popular site for Qassam rocket launchers.

 

The mayor, together with Ashkelon's Education Supervisor Levi Shafran, decided that summer courses and other activities supposed to take place in educational facilities in the city will continue as normal.

 

According to Shafran, there was a need to maintain routine.

 

'Take action now'

 

Some city council members believed that some action must be taken by tomorrow, such as shutting down educational centers. "Otherwise we'll turn into Sderot and the next time a Qassam falls here it won't stir much interest," said a council member.

 

Politicians were also quick to respond to the new security development. Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), who lives in the city, said that the Palestinians have already exaggerated.

 

"Unfortunately, this is a war situation. We have to think about the new situation. Nonetheless, Ashkelon must act as usual, pray a lot, and I assume those who have to take care of the fortification will already know what has to be done," he said.

 

Likud Faction Chairman Knesset Member Gideon Sa'ar said that the landing of a Qassam rocket in the heart of Ashkelon shows up the total failure of the disengagement plan.

 

"Unlike promises that the disengagement would bring a better reality, the forecast made by opponents to the disengagement is coming true," Saar said. "In light of this the continued advancement of the convergence plan will be the abandonment of the residents of central Israel to artillery attacks by terror organizations in Judea and Samaria," he added.

 

Knesset Member Yisrael Hasson (Israel Our Home) said that Israel was a hostage of Hamas. "It is very unfortunate that Hamas is the only element that turns the Israeli convergence government into an emergency government. We are in the midst of a process which, in addition tot he need to free a hostage, the State of Israel must free itself from being a hostage of Khaled Mashaal in Syria, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and Qassam fires in Beit Hanoun," he said.

 

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