The rocket fire which has plagued residents of the Gaza vicinity communities for years, is expected to worsen following Israel's launching of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Sources in the government and defense establishment said that not only are Palestinian groups likely to increase rocket fire, they are likely to use longer range missiles, which increase the number of communities at risk for rocket attacks.
As such, the IDF's Home Front Command has widened the circle of communities that it assesses may need to take special precautions.
Upon hearing the Color Red alert on an air raid siren, individuals must attempt to get to secure rooms or fortified structures within the following timeframes:
- In communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border, residents are instructed to remain in fortified rooms. Mass gatherings are forbidden. These instructions are also relevant to Sderot.
- In communities within 10km of Gaza, residents are instructed to stay within a 15 second distance of a fortified structure or secured room. Mass gatherings are forbidden.
- In communities within 10 to 20km of Gaza, including Ashkelon and Netivot, residents are instructed to be able to reach fortified structures within 30 seconds. Gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted, but only under structures sporting a solid roof.
- In communities within 20 to 30km of Gaza, including Ashdod, Ofakim, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Rahat and the surrounding towns, residents are instructed to be able to reach fortified structures within 45 seconds. Gatherings of up to 500 people are permitted, again only under structures sporting a solid roof.
- Residents of communities of more than 30km from Gaza, including Beersheba, Gadera, Yavne and surrounding towns, have up to one minute to reach fortified structures. In the event of rocket fire on these towns, an air raid siren will sound for 90 seconds.
According to Home Front Command protocol, it would be safe to leave secured areas within five minutes of the siren, or once an explosion sound has subsided.
The Home Front Command stresses that civilians must stay away from any unidentified objects on the ground, as a precaution against possible projectiles or ordnance which have not exploded on impact. Any such objects should be immediately reported to police.
It is also important that people avoid gathering in areas where rockets have fallen.
According to a formal statement, "the Home Front Command and emergency agencies are trained and ready to deal with such incidents and are deployed across the region in order to provide aid."
Additional information can be received at the command's hotline: 1207
The Sderot emergency hotline is 972-8-6897283