Palestinian fire on the Negev continued Saturday, with terrorist groups making use of more advanced weaponry. Experts say the two Grad rockets that landed in Ashkelon Saturday morning were new and improved models, capable of greater destruction than those usually fired from Gaza.
One of the rockets hit a school in the southern city, and succeeded in penetrating the fortification used to protect it from projectiles.
Two tractors required to pull rocket from ground (Photo: AP)
Police said Saturday evening that since the end of Israel's offensive in Gaza 64 rockets and mortar shells have hit the battered South, lightly wounding four people and causing 14 to suffer from shock.
The Grad rockets that hit Ashkelon were two of only five or six locally manufactured 170 mm rockets ever fired at Israel, experts say. The rarely used rockets have a range of 14 km (8.6 miles) and are capable of massive damage, evident from the destruction witnesses described on the scene of Saturday's attack.
Two tractors were required to pull the rocket from the ground in which it had become lodged.
Four Qassam rockets were also fired at the Negev Saturday, bringing the total number of projectiles to seven. The first landed in open spaces near a kibbutz in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, and residents reported that the Color Red alert, set to warn against incoming projectiles, was not sounded in the kibbutz. It was sounded in another town in the area, however.
Another landed in Eshkol Regional Council in the evening and the fourth landed south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported in either of the attacks.
The Ashkelon Municipality announced that schools would operate as usual on Sunday, save for the school hit by the Grad.
Ashkelon Parents' Committee Chairman Yinon Jibli: "We respect the municipality's decision but it seems the entire city should be halted tomorrow and not just the school system. Today was proof of that," he said.
Last weekend the Parents' Committee sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak demanding to fortify more of Ashkelon's education facilities.
"For a number of years now the children of Ashkelon have been serving as hostages in the hands of Hamas' reign of terror," the letter said in an allusion to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas in Gaza.