Photo: Tsafrir Avayov
Damaged car in Sderot
Photo: Tsafrir Avayov
Photo: Niv Calderon
'Restraint does not contribute to ceasefire.' Peretz
Photo: Niv Calderon
Qassam lands near Ashkelon strategic facility
Rocket fired from north Gaza lands near strategic facility in city's industrial zone; no injuries, damage reported. Islamic Jihad: Attacks response to the Zionists' crimes, violations against Palestinian people; total of six Qassams fired since morning

A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed Tuesday morning next to a strategic facility in Ashkelon's industrial zone, close to where dangerous substances are stored. There were no reports of injuries or damage.


An employee at the facility told Ynet following the attack, “Just like yesterday, at exactly the same hour, we heard an explosion, but this time it was much louder. An alarm was sounded in the area after the security officers received word of the incoming rocket by beeper and we proceeded to enter secure rooms. After the fall there were attempts to locate the exact landing site.”


The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, claimed responsibility for the attack on Ashkelon, saying it fired a mid-range Quds-3 type rocket.


The group also claimed responsibility for the attack on Sderot earlier in the day.


“One of the armed-wing’s cells succeeded in launching two advanced Quds-3 rockets toward the settlement of Sderot in as a response to the Zionists' crimes and violations against the Palestinian people."


The announcement also said that "there will be no security for the Sderot residents unless there is security for the residents of the West Bank."


Earlier four additional Qassam rockets were fired toward the western Negev area. One landed in Sderot at about 7 a.m.; no injuries were reported, but slight damage was done.


The Qassam landed in one of the squares in the town's residential area and damaged a few cars.


Following the rockets' falling, many parents worried whether or not they should send their children to school, since it seemed the shelling of Sderot had returned.


Three additional Qassams landed in open areas in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council area. Residents reported that the “Color Red” alert system was not activated.


In the afternoon a sixth Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in an open field near the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.


The Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for this attack as well.


“Because of the rockets our children are sleeping in secure rooms, and I sleep in the room next to them,” Sderot resident Moshe Ben Sheetrit told Ynet following the attack. “This morning I heard a loud explosion; this is the second time in two days that a Qassam falls without prior warning. The ‘Color Red’ alert system saves lives, but it was not activated today.”


Destruction in Sderot Tuesday morning (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov) 


Alon Davidi, head of the campaign against the government's handling of the situation in Sderot, said Tuesday morning that "The reality here has turned into complete madness. Four Qassam rockets have been fired and nothing has been done, yesterday was the same, and so was the day before that. We are still hoping and waiting to see some kind of response to this firing. Even the defense minister is behind military action."


Batya Mattar head of the Sderot Parents Union pointed out that "each day the feeling that the government has neglected us grows stronger, I hear more and more people asking to take the law into their own hands and acting. Olmert is living in his own reality and we feel as if we have been left out of the State of Israel."


Following a direct hit Monday morning by a Qassam on a strategic facility in Ashkelon, many government ministers called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to end his policy of restraint.


Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Ynet following the attack, "We must operate against Qassam fire and rocket launching cells if we identify them before or after shooting. We must not let these cells get away."


'Stop Qassam rocket fire'

Sources from the defense establishment said that most of the Qassam fire is execute by Islamic Jihad operatives.


“A situation in which we do not open fire at Qassam-launching cells even in open areas allows the Islamic Jihad members to walk around like heroes,” Peretz added. “I do not believe this contributed to the stability of the ceasefire.” 


Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Our Home) told Ynet: "The State of Israel must act against the Qassams in a well-planned and organized manner. We must not respond merely in order to appease the public."


"Such an operation must cause a cessation of the Qassam fire plaguing the residents of Ashkelon, Sderot and the western Negev," he emphasized.


Senior security establishment officials have also criticized the government’s restraint policy as of late.


In all security discussions conducted recently, there was a noticeable trend of the IDF command to change the current equation and to act in a targeted manner against the Qassam launchers. However, today the IDF is continuing to act based on the instructions of the political echelon to hold all fire.


The fear in the defense establishment is that the Qassam attacks will bring further casualties, which will necessitate a shift in action; therefore there is a need to act now and not wait for a situation where Israel will act in retaliation to a severe incident.


Ali Waked contributed to the report 


First published: 26.12.06, 07:35
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