Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired two Qassam rockets toward the western Negev Wednesday morning, as Israeli children in Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev were making their way to schools and kindergartens after the Passover holiday. No injuries or damage were reported.
Sderot residents reported hearing explosions shortly after the Color Red siren sounded in the city at 7:33 am. The rockets apparently landed in an open area.
- Hamas arrests hardline Islamists over rocket attacks
- First time since Pillar of Defense: IAF strikes in Gaza
- Qassam fell in empty preschool during Obama visit
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said "Israel holds Hamas responsible for everything that is fired from Gaza. "We will not in any way allow a routine of rocket fire steadily dripping on our civilians and soldiers," Yaalon said in a statement.
Ya'alon, who spoke prior to Wednesday morning's rocket attack, was referring to the IDF's strikes in Gaza and the Golan Heights Tuesday night.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
"In the Golan Heights as well, our policy is that we have no intention of ignoring fire from Syria toward Israeli territory, incidental or not, and we will responds with a strike," he added.
The IDF said it "identified rocket launchings from north Gaza toward the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. A siren was heard in Sderot at 7:33 am. Residents entered protected spaces. The rockets apparently landed in open areas."
Sderot school, Wednesday morning (Photo: Roee Idan)
Sderot resident Shimon Abutbul, who was taking his son to school when the Qassams hit, said "I had a feeling that the other side would respond after the IDF attacked in Gaza last night, and that's exactly what happened.
"It is frightening to send children to school like this. But we calm down as soon as they arrive at the fortified school," he said.
Photo: Roee Idan
The IDF said there was no prior warning regarding an attack on schoolchildren in the south, but army officials said the terrorists most likely launched the attack knowing parents were on their way to work and children were heading to school.
Sderot Mayor David Buskila told Ynet, "I think the IDF's response is adequate. We must not return to the reality that prevailed here before Pillar of Defense."
Rocket in Sderot, Wednesday (Photo: Roee Idan)
"We knew the calm would not be maintained, but every time it happens, we feel the despair again," Sderot resident Itzik Biton said.
Suzy Abormed, also of Sderot, said she fears the rocket attacks will intensify. "This period of calm only gave the terrorists time to replenish their weapons stockpiles. I am afraid the blow they were dealt during Operation Pillar of Defense was not strong enough. Maybe we should enter Gaza and rid it of terrorists so we will have real calm for a few years," she said.
On Tuesday a Qassam rocket that was fired at the beginning of the Passover holiday was discovered at Margalit's preschool in Sderot. Management informed parents that the school would remain closed Wednesday, but some parents did not receive the message.
Eldad Sharabi, who accompanied his daughter to the preschool, said "It is certainly not a pleasant site for a little girl. I wanted to come and make sure that the damage to the preschool is not causing emotional damage to the children, but the Color Red siren sounded as I was examining the damage. I think the government must do something."
Closed kindergarten in Sderot (Photo: Roee Idan)
Shimrit Amar, who received the message, left her son at home and arrived at the preschool on her own. "I wanted to see how much damage was caused. I thought the preschool was fortified. It is frightening to see how lucky we were that the school was empty when the Qassam hit," she said.
On Tuesday, three mortars were fired from Gaza toward Israel. One shell landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, without causing injury or damage. The Israeli Air Force responded later that night by striking two terror targets in the Hamas-ruled territory. There were no reports of injury or damage.
The attack in Gaza was the first since Operation Pillar of Defense in November. Israel estimates that rogue terror groups in Gaza are behind the latest attacks on Israel, but the Jewish state continues to hold Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from the coastal enclave.
Palestinians in Gaza have fired several rockets since an informal ceasefire took hold after the November conflict.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has decided not to expand the permitted fishing range in the Gaza Strip from three to six nautical miles.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop