Rocket hits Ashkelon home
Photo: Amir Cohen
Paramedics evacuate Sderot resident to hospital
Photo: Zeev Trachtman
Ashkelon braces for more rockets
(Video) Large southern city previously out of rocket range repeatedly hit in recent days; Defense Minister Barak orders 'Color Red' alert system to be employed in town. Earlier Thursday, Grad rocket lands near Ashkelon school

VIDEO - Residents of the southern city of Ashkelon experienced one of their toughest days since rockets from Gaza started hitting the town. Single rockets were fired at the city in the past, but on Thursday a total of 10 rockets hit the city, leaving growing anxiety in their wake.


Two long-range Grad rockets fired from the northern Strip Thursday evening hit Ashkelon, with one of the rockets landing near a school in the center of town. a 17-year-old girl suffered light shrapnel wounds in the latest attack and several other people suffered from anxiety.


More than 30 Qassam and Grad rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel throughout the day.


Following the repeated rocket attacks on Ashkelon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the 'Red Color' alert system to be employed in the southern city. Earlier, senior security officials recommended the move. The alert system is expected to go into use within a short period of time.


Also Thursday, IDF Home Front Command Chief Yair Golan toured the landing sites in Ashkelon. In a meeting held earlier in the day at town hall and attended by senior Home Front Command officials, IDF officers recommended to employ the "Red Color" rocket alert in Ashkelon as well. So far, the alert system had only been used in rocket-battered communities such as Sderot.


'We're simply unprepared'

Police officials said that about 3,000 local residents called emergency lines during the day, mostly from the Ashkelon area. Most calls were a result of the great confusion of residents who for the first time faced repeated explosions in town.


Many parents said they will not be sending their children to school in the near future. Most educational institutions in Ashkelon are not fortified and some bomb shelters are very old. However, schools are expected to remain open in the city for the time being, although children may be forced to stay in the classrooms during breaks should the rocket attacks continue.


During a special session held Thursday, some municipal officials warned that the city is unprepared to face ongoing rocket attacks. Local council member Eli Dayan said: "We're simply unprepared…and those claiming otherwise should have seen the hundreds of frightened people who simply didn't know what to do."


Meanwhile, Ashkelon's Deputy Mayor Levi Shafran said that he objects to the deployment of the 'Red Color' alert system.


"Nobody checked the implications of using the system in a town of 160,000 residents," he said.


Rocket hits house

Several rockets were fired at Ashkelon earlier Thursday, one directly hitting a house. Several people suffered shock; Magen David Adom paramedics were sent to the scene.


One of the rockets reportedly landed, for the first time, in the city's north. The third rocket was located in the city's south.


The Qassam fire on Israel's western Negev continued uninterrupted throughout Thursday, a day after a student at Sderot's Sapir College was killed in a rocket attack.




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Two people were lightly wounded in the attacks, while several others suffered shock. A raw-materials factory in Sderot's industrial area sustained a direct hit; a fire broke on the premises and firefighters were sent to  extinguish it.


A Qassam fired from northern Gaza landed near the college Thursday morning, wounding an officer belonging to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter's protection detail.


At least eight rockets were fired at Sderot and its vicinity later Thursday. A 70-year-old woman was lightly injured by shrapnel and evacuated to the Barzilay Medical Center in Ashkelon. One of the rockets hit a house, causing several people to suffer shock, the building itself sustained some damage.


Earlier, several people suffered shock after a Qassam landed near an elementary school in town.


Amnon Meranda contributed to the story 


First published: 28.02.08, 14:58
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