An Israeli Arab laborer was killed Monday morning from a Grad rocket which hit a construction site inside Ashkelon. An air raid siren was sounded in the seaside city just before 9:30 am, followed by an explosion which rocked many areas across Ashkelon.
The fatality was named as Hani al-Mahdi, a 27-year-old construction worker from the Negev village of Ar'ur.
Sixteen people were injured in the attack, five of them sustaining moderate wounds and the rest lightly hurt. They were evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Nir Marciano, who lives across from the fatal landing site, told Ynet, "I was at home, I heard the siren and whistle and ran to the balcony. I heard a small blast followed by a bigger one, which rocked the house and the windows. It was simply terrifying. The blast was so strong it blew me inside."
Scene of attack (Photo: AFP)
Rockets landed in three different locations across the city. One of the Grads landed near a small commercial center in northern Ashkelon, and was blocked by a tree. There were no injuries, but slight damage was caused.
At the same time, a bus arrived in the area carrying many passengers. The driver heard the siren and opened the door, and the passengers escaped into a nearby café.
David Saadon, who was sitting in the café at the time of the attack, told Ynet, "We heard the siren, and then I saw the bus and the people running out of it terrified. We heard a very loud explosion, which rocked the entire area. It was a miracle, because there are a lot of apartment buildings here. It's a very crowded area."
The rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip continued Monday morning. In Sderot, a yard was directed hit by a rocket, which damaged a building and vehicles. An elderly couple who was in the house suffered shock.
A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed within the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. A mortar shell fired from the Strip exploded in an open area near the border fence in the Nahal Oz area. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Defense establishment officials reiterated that Hamas
is capable of firing 100 to 200 rockets a day, calling on residents to obey to the Home Front Command instructions.
Israeli fighter jets continued
their sorties over Gaza on Sunday night as "Operation Cast Lead" entered its third day. According to Palestinian reports, seven people were killed in the raids, including a baby and three siblings, one of them an infant.
Israeli warplanes bombed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza on Monday, the first air strike that targeted a government building in Israel's offensive, the Palestinian faction said. No immediate word was available on whether there were any casualties.
Palestinian sources further reported that the Israel Air Force bombed the house adjacent to the home of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a refugee camp near Gaza City.
- In an apparent revenge attack against the Gaza operation, two Arab handymen stabbed
a family they were hired by in the community of Kiryat Sefer, near Modiin. The head of the family was seriously injured.
- The IDF closed access roads in the Gaza vicinity and has begun mobilizing tanks towards the border fence. The tanks will be stationed near the fence in sports where fire and rocket attacks from the Strip can be monitored.
- The defense establishment referred to reports
that kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit was injured in an IAF bombing as a Hamas manipulation. The Shalit family was told that the Palestinian group would try and launch psychological warfare in a bid to indirectly pressure Israel to halt its operation.
- The world continues to closely follow Israel's Operation Cast Lead: Canada blamed Hamas for the escalation, while China called on Israel to halt the operation immediately. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and urged the international community to act towards a truce in the area.
- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
plans to boycott the Knesset's special recess session, which will be held Monday afternoon to discuss the security escalation. According to the prime minister, this is not the time for speeches and statements.
- The Home Front Command expanded its instructions
to Israeli citizens, and public bomb shelters were opened in the cities of Beersheba and Yavne as well.
Hanan Greenberg and Daniel Edelson contributed to this report