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Ofakim after rocket explosion Photo: Eliad Levy
Ofakim after rocket explosion Photo: Eliad Levy
 
 

Grad rockets hit near Netivot, Ofakim

For first time since Egypt riots began, rockets fired from Gaza towards south Israel; four suffer shock. 'We're terrified; we have no shelters,' resident says

Ynet reporters
Published: 01.31.11, 22:48 / Israel News

Tensions in Egypt appear to be spreading to Gaza: Grad rockets fired from the Hamas-ruled territory Monday night landed near the southern Israeli cities of Ofakim and Netivot. Also Monday, a Qassam rocket exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported

 

During the rocket attack on Netivot- the first attack on Israel since the mass protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began a week ago – four people suffered from shock, and damage was caused to a road and a parked car.

 

The rocket landed near a residential neighborhood.

 

Another Grad hit the Ofakim area a few minutes later, but there were no reports of injury or damage.


Scene of explosion in Netivot (Photo: Roee Idan)

 

"It was terrifying," an Ofakim resident said. "We heard a boom – like a nuclear bomb. We thought it was thunder; there was smoke and

explosions. We're dying of fear that another wave of Grads and Qassams will begin. We have no shelters or secure rooms, and the rocket fell about 10 meters (33 feet) from the houses."

 

One of the people who attended a wedding in a small hall near the rocket's landing site in the Netivot area said, "There was music, then we suddenly hear a loud blast. Everyone - little children and men – ran for cover. People fell over one another. It's a miracle no one was hurt."

 

Another person who attended the wedding said, "Luckily, the rocket landed after the chuppah, while everyone was already eating at the tables. If it had landed a few meters closer, this could have been a mass casualty event."

 

Rise in activity

Colonel Eitan Yitzhak, the Home Front's Southern Command chief told Ynet that the missile alert systems did not work Monday and added that the army has launched an inquiry into the matter. He noted that civilians are instructed to continue with routine activity and follow Home Front Command guidelines in case of any alert.

 

"In the past month there have been a number of events and put together one can say there is a rise in activity," he said.

 

Meanwhile, Ofakim residents are complaining of a shortage of shelters and fortified spaces. Yaffa, who lives near the scene of the explosion, said: "I was making a cup of coffee and suddenly heard a blast. It caused me to move sideways towards the oven and my window was cracked. I'm traumatized and afraid of sleeping. We are at God's mercies, I don't even have a protective space here. They need to reenter Gaza and launch another operation."



  

Last week two Qassams were fired from Gaza. One rocket landed in an open area in the western Negev, while the other apparently landed in an open area in Gaza. There were no reports of injury or damage.

 

Earlier this month Egypt warned Hamas that the IDF may launch an offensive if the rocket attacks on Israel are not halted, as was the case in Operation Cast Lead.

 

Ilana Curiel and Shmulik Hadad contributed to the report

 

 

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