Four IDF soldiers sustained light wounds and another soldier suffered light to moderate injuries after a Qassam rocket landed in a military base south of Ashkelon Thursday morning.
The troops were hurt by shrapnel and will be taken to hospital for treatment. The wounded soldiers include lieutenant colonel Yossi Drori, a battalion commander in the Givati Brigades, and his deputy.
Several minutes after the rocket attack, IDF troops directed massive artillery fire at northern Gaza Qassam launching. One Palestinian was killed by an Israeli shell, Palestinian sources reported. The man was identified as Ibrahim Na’ame.
The Qassam rocket landed around 9:45 a.m. near the base’s dining hall, which was crowded with soldiers and officers at the time of the attack. The battalion in question has been deployed to the area to address terror threats in the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian sources in Gaza said Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, was behind the rocket attack.
Troops at the base told Ynet about the panic that followed the rocket attack.
“We heard an explosion near the dining hall,” one soldier said. “At first we didn’t understand what happened but within several seconds it became clear a Qassam landed here. Several soldiers were hit by shrapnel and we can still hear the noises ringing in our ears.”
The small base where the rocket landed is currently home to Givati brigade and armored corps forces. Following the disengagements, the army initiated speedy construction projects at the facility in order to make it suitable for large forces to be responsible for IDF activity in the northern Gaza Strip.
Five troops hurt (Photo: Amir Cohen)
Construction work at the site has not yet been completed and army officials are now looking into the possibility of removing soldiers from the base for the time being.
Another rocket fired earlier
Earlier Thursday, a Qassam fired from the Gaza landed in an open area near the industrial zone south of Ashkelon.
No injuries or damages were reported in the latest strike.
Two day ago, Palestinians fired four Qassam rockets at Israeli targets. Two of the rockets landed in open areas near the southern town of Sderot and another one landed in an army base.
No injuries or damages were reported in any of these attacks.
In response, the army directed artillery fire at rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz proposed to bomb the Gaza Strip and force Palestinian residents in several areas to flee to the Sinai desert in response to the ongoing rocket attacks.
Shmulik Hadad contributed to the story