On a day plagued with Israeli casualties, Qassam rockets did not stop raining on Sderot and the vicinity. Late Tuesday night, eight Qassams landed in the region, in three separate salvos, with two more rockets landing just after midnight Wednesday.
No one was injured in the latest barrages, but earlier rockets wreaked havoc. Tuesday evening, a Sderot resident was seriously wounded after a Qassam rocket launched from Gaza slammed into her house. Her young son was moderately wounded.
Thirteen rockets landed in the vicinity of Sderot during this attack, causing no other injuries but substantial damage to an elementary school.
Less than an hour after the first attack terror groups launched five additional rockets from Gaza, directly hitting a second house in the city. The house was damaged but no injuries were reported. A third rocket landed in the city's commercial center and damaged several stores.
An additional Qassam hit a low-voltage powerline, causing a temporary black-out. Residents said the barrage was one of the worst in a long time.
Later in the evening Palestinians also fired two mortar shells at a kibbutz in the western Negev, no injuries or damage were reported and officials said the shells landed in an open field.
The 45-year-old Sderot woman who was seriously wounded was treated by an emergency medical team for a head injury. She and her wounded son were both evacuated to the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, where doctors now say her situation has improved and is now deemed as moderate.
Dr. Emil Chai, deputy director of Barzilai, said that in all 18 people were brought in for treatment. Two children were lightly wounded from shrapnel and the blasts themselves and two pregnant women went into distress and were admitted for tests. "At the moment we're prepared to receive the wave of shock victims expected to arrive at the hospital. We've called in doctors who were off-shift from their homes and converted the cafeteria into a reception area for them so we're ready," he said, adding that most shock victims would be released this evening.
Sappers who arrived at the crash site noted that the rockets used in Tuesday's attack are similar to those fired during recent days, which are packed with more explosives and are more accurate than their predecessors. Shrapnel damaged property several dozen meters from where the rocket hit.
As a response to estimations that more rocket attacks were imminent, emergency medical teams in the area were put on high alert and ambulances spread out throughout Sderot's neighborhoods. Officials also said the city's schools would not open tomorrow.
Hamas takes responsibility, Sderot residents outraged at government
A crowd of angry residents gathered near the family's damaged house and condemned the government for failing to act against the rocket attacks.
Woman treated for shock in Sderot (Photo: Amir Cohen)
The city's rocket-alert system identified the launchings and warned residents moments before they landed. Security forces are currently en route to the out-of-city crash sites however no more casualties have been reported as of yet.
Hamas' military wing, the Izz adin al-Qassam brigades, took responsibility for the barrage and claimed it was in response to the killing of nine Palestinian security officers from an Israeli shell in Gaza. Earlier in the day Hamas gunmen attacked a Palestinian Presidential Guard training base and shot dead nine Fatah members, the IDF adamantly denied any Israeli involvement in their deaths.
A spokesman for the group threatened its members would fire dozens more overnight.
The attack from Gaza continues the worrying trend which has developed over the past two weeks as terror groups launch frequent heavy rocket attacks in contrast to the relative calm since the ceasefire was declared. On Monday Palestinians launched three rockets from Gaza towards southern Israel and a fire broke outside a Negev kibbutz after one of the rockets hit a field.
Earlier this week the cabinet discussed the calls for a response to the incessant fire from Gaza however the government decided to maintain the current policy of restraint for the time being.
The government instructed the army to continue operating according to current procedures.