An hour later another Qassam rocket hit a house in Sderot. No injuries were reported, but the structure was damaged. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack.
Injured girl taken to hospital (Photo: Herzl Yosef)
Tchelet, the two-year-old, sustained shrapnel injuries to her leg, and her mother suffered from shock. Twelve-year-old Yardena was injured in the shoulder. They were both taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for treatment.
Gladis Za'arur-Fishbein, Tchelet's mother, said she had just picked up her infant daughter from the children's quarters in the kibbutz when the Qassam landed.
"We were walking on the road with the playground to our left; it's usually packed with kids at this time of day," she recounted. "Suddenly I heard a whistling sound followed by an explosion and fire. I was thrown back by the force of the blast. Tchelet was also thrown back and I heard her call for my help. I picked her up and noticed that she was injured in the leg; her shoe was filled with blood."
Gladis' friend then took the mother and daughter to her home until the paramedics arrived.
"There were times in the past when we heard the 'Color Red' alert system and then quickly ran for cover," Gladis added, "but this time the rocket fell without warning; it just exploded right before my eyes."
Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin, whose daughter attends the kibbutz's kindergarten, told Ynet "the rocket landed at a time when all of the children usually play outside, especially on a beautiful day like today. This is also the time of day when some parents come to pick their children up.
Sderot home hit by Qassam (Photo: zeev Trachtman)
"Luckily, the rocket didn’t land inside the kindergarten but in a nearby playground," he said.
Kibbutz secretary Tzi Alon said "at around 4 pm a Qassam rocket landed near the kibbutz's residential area, close to a playground. Paramedics removed the shrapnel from the body of one of the injured girls and transferred her to a hospital. Another girl was injured when she ran for cover after the rocket fell. Her mother suffered from shock, and they were both evacuated from the scene."
'It's amazing how lucky we were'
According to Alon, shrapnel from the rocket damaged several houses. "Qassams fall near the kibbutz from time to time, but the last time one fell inside the kibbutz grounds was six months ago. This time we were very lucky," he said.
Rachel Avni, the aunt of the 12-year-old girl who sustained shrapnel wounds to her shoulder, said the rocket landed in close proximity to the children's quarters, "as though it were aimed directly at that area.
"It's amazing how lucky we were; let's hope this was the last Qassam to land here," she said.
Following a period of relative calm, three Qassam rockets landed in southern Ashkelon Tuesday night. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Hamas claimed responsibility for firing the rockets.
Earlier Tuesday, Palestinians fired 12 Qassam rockets at the southern town of Sderot and the western Negev communities. A 14-year-old girl was moderately injured by shrapnel and three people were lightly hurt from smoke inhalation after a rocket directly hit a house in Sderot.