Qassam attacks continue: A Qassam rocket landed next to a kindergarten in a community south of Ashkelon at 10:45 a.m. Friday. Two children were lightly wounded and eight more people suffered shock. Additionally, the kindergarten building was damaged.
Magen David Adom emergency crews arrived at the scene and began treating the children and took some to the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon.
"We were right before the end of the class and then the Red Alert siren was heard, and the children simply began running in all directions. Some of them ran in the direction of where the Qassam fell," said Ronny Basin, a youth leader who with the children during the rocket attack.
"I called them over to stand underneath the tree, but it was a matter of seconds and two children were injured by shrapnel," he said.
"The children were very frightened, some of them cried and some of them were in shock. I tried to calm them down and within a few minutes the security forces arrived. The situation is very stressful, but what can we do? To our great luck, until now there were no injuries," Basin said.
The mother of one of the injured children recounted: "They were playing outside in the kibbutz, and they suddenly heard the Red Dawn alert. They ran to search for cover It was apparently too late because the rocket already landed and exploded – my son was injured by shrapnel in the back and his friend was injured by shrapnel in the leg. To our great luck we had a guest who was trained in first aid and quickly treated him. Very quickly, soldiers also came from the nearby base and they helped us treat the two children."
Lachish District Police sent sappers to the area who examining rocket remains. Kibbutz Zikim has absorbed many rocket attacks – a large portion of the rockets fired at Ashkelon land in the kibbutz, and recently residents have begun reinforcing their homes.
Local residents have already said they have no intention of leaving their community.
"I have no doubt that this is a very difficult reality for us – we had a serene kibbutz, quiet, with an incredible beach. But we have turned into a kibbutz that is shelled again and again by Qassam rockets – and the children can't play outside anymore. We very much hope this won't cause a serious crisis in the kibbutz," one resident said.
Earlier, Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip fired Qassam rocket towards Sderot at 7:00 a.m. Friday. The rockets landed on streets in the center of town. No one was wounded and no damage was caused.
Thursday night five Qassams were fired towards Sderot and the Shaar Hanegev region. No one was wounded.
Southern front neglected?
Many residents of the south are concerned that since the opening of the critical northern front, the southern front is being forgotten, as are the non-stop rocket barrages on Gaza border communities.
Most activists in the area prefers to suppress their criticism due to the war in the north, but it appears that they are gradually becoming fed up with the situation.
Southern residents who had set up a protest tent in the south and declared a hunger strike demanding increased military action against the Qassams called a meeting to consider ways of dealing with the continued rocket attacks.
Meanwhile another protest tent was set up across from the Sderot municipality, led by Aryeh Cohen and his colleagues. This week there was even a wedding ceremony held in the tent of a couple who had met during their shared struggle at the site.
Frustrated felt in south
Southern residents are frustrated by the fact that the offensive in the north is, to their claims, so much different than the restrained response to rockets attacks on the south. The IDF however continues to reiterate that extensive military operations are being carried out against Qassam fire in Gaza, and many terror operatives have been hit.
One protestor said: “They’re always talking about the northern fron and the southern front, but there is no southern front. There are pinpointed operations, as chirurgical as with tweezers. The Qassam fire isn’t stopping, it’s only getting worse, but the army’s response (in Gaza) isn’t even comparable to what they are doing up north.”
“The army has no problem operating on two fronts, as long as the political echelons don’t tie its hands behind its back. They simply need to operate in Gaza against terrorists the same as they are in the north. Rocket fire is rocket fire anywhere it is,” he added.