Simultaneously, another rocket hit grove in the Kibbutz Zikim area, causing a fire.
IDF officials said that the Qassam rocket launched Wednesday night landed roughly 12 kilometers from its launch site. The rocket was a dual-engined rocket, and was launched from northern Gaza, slightly south of the evacuated settlement of Dugit.
Rocket lands in Ashkelon (Photo: Amir Cohen)
On Tuesday evening, a Qassam rocket landed near the Ronson high school, near the Ashkelon Academic College. There were no injuries in the incident.
The rocket fell at a grove in the neighborhood and the noise was heard across the area. hundreds of residents arrived at the scene of the fall, some expressing their anger over the government's helplessness in dealing with the rocket fire.
Rami Avraham, who lives nearby, told Ynet: "I was sitting in my house's balcony and waiting to see if the army was firing at the Strip. Suddenly I heard a loud whistle and saw the rocket flying with fire and a lot of smoke, and then I heard a very loud explosion."
"The entire house trembled. It was very scary, this is the first time a Qassam rocket lands right next to me. Within a few minutes police and MDA forces arrived," he recounted.
Members of Ashkelon's city council members convened earlier for a special discussion following the rocket fire. In the discussion, the members argued whether the city should operate the Red Dawn alert system like in Sderot.
At the start of the meeting, Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mehatzri said he spoke with Defense Minister Amir Peretz. He presented the statements on the issue by Major General Yossi Mishlav, the coordinator of the government's operations in the territories, who visited Ashkelon earlier.
“The Home front Commander told us that we do not need to change our deployment in Ashkelon, we don’t need a Red Dawn alarm system, or to build shields for schools, but to continue life as usual," he said.
But members of the council did not quite agree. Amram Ben David said he thought the city should look into activating an alarm warning system, because it could save lives.
“If we are silent, our fate will be like Sderot’s, and so we need to pressure the government. Before the elections then-Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz came and convinced us not to make a big deal after the Qassams hit southern Ashkelon, because it could harm the city’s progress,” he said.
Council members: Demand compensation
Another council member, Avi Ayash, also recalled the government’s promise that Qassams would not reach Ashkelon.
“I think we need to install the ‘Red Dawn’ system,” Ayesh said. “Because if the rocket hit on a regular school day and there were students there, an alert system would make them seek shelter.”
Council member Nissim Halfon said that local hotels reported a 20 percent cancellation rate.
“I have no doubt there will be more cancellations and so we must demand financial compensation from the government,” Halfon urged.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the council agreed that a team needed to be established that would make decisions regarding protection, installing a Red Dawn alert system, and general management of the problem. The Mayor asked the council members who wanted to be on the team, but not one hand went up.
Wednesday’s meeting was called chiefly to “let off steam” and not make practical decisions. Another city council meeting was slated for Thursday, in which the city was supposed to put into effect an increase in property taxes. Council members demanded the meeting be cancelled, or that the decision would be made to reduce rather than raise the taxes. Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mehatzri said that was illegal.