A Grad rocket fired from northern Gaza at around noon Thursday struck an eight-storey apartment building in Ashdod. The rocket hit the building's roof and penetrated two floors. There were no initial reports of injury. A fire broke out at the premises, but it was extinguished by firefighters who were dispatched to the scene. Some 20 people were treated for shock.
The Israeli Air Force struck a launching pad in Gaza used to fire the rocket at Ashdod. The target was reportedly destroyed.
Eyewitness Haim Sarusi told Ynet that a "huge cloud of smoke billowed over the building, as though someone had bombed the site from the air. A number of people screamed and asked for help. It's a miracle that no one was hurt."
Rubble outside Ashdod building (Photo: Avi Rokach)
Shortly after the attack on Ashdod two Grads landed in the Ashkelon area. No damage was caused, but a number of people were treated for shock. A third rocket hit the city at around 1 pm, causing no injuries or damage.
Thursday afternoon saw several more rockets fired from Gaza at the Beersheba, Ashkelon and Eshkol areas. Another rocket was fired toward Ofakim; no injuries were reported.
Thirty-two people were treated for shock in Ashdod and Ashkelon.
Real time rocket fire at Ashdod (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Day six of Operation Cast Lead began with rocket fire on the Beersheba area. One rocket appeared to have landed in an open area, causing no harm. Another rocket landed in an open area just outside the Negev city, and a third rocket was launched toward Beersheba at around 12:40 pm.
In addition, several Qassam rockets were fired at western Negev communities since the early morning hours. No injuries were reported, but damage was caused to some structures.
In all, more than 20 rockets were fired at Israel throughout the day.
At around 2:20 pm three Qassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza toward Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Israel.
The Home Front Command instructed all Beersheba residents to listen for air raid sirens on Military Radio frequency 102.3 FM or on Radio Saouth (97.0 FM), due to a malfunction in the city's siren system.
Thursday's school day in Beersheba, Gedera and the surrounding area has been canceled after the extensive barrage suffered by Beersheba on Wednesday.
Barak's order will elapse in 48 hours, unless sanctioned by the cabinet, and it the meantime, the defense minister urges the city's residents to comply with the Home Front Command's emergency instructions.
"We have struck Hamas, but as we all see, it's still striking back," he said during a tour of Beersheba.