Qassam fire continues; 2 Israelis hurt
More than 20 rockets fired from Gaza since morning hours, one causes heavy damage to building. Another rocket starts fire outside Sderot; two other Qassams land near synagogue, educational institution. Earlier, IDF kills five Hamas gunmen in southern Strip town of Rafah following mortar attack which left member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza dead
Saturday under fire: Two Israelis sustained light shrapnel wounds and two more suffered from anxiety Saturday afternoon after a Qassam rocket landed near a Sderot building. The scent of gas could be felt in the area, and later it turned out that a gas pipe was damaged in the attack. Firefighters were called to the scene in order to repair the leak.
Overall, at least 22 Qassam rockets and five mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday. Earlier, one rocket directly hit a house in Sderot, causing heavy damage. Three people suffered from shock.
Man hurt by Qassam (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
Tal Buganim, who lives near the house hit by the rocket Saturday morning, said that the Color Red rocket alert system began sounding since the early morning hourse.
"We heard the Color Red several times, and then we heard a loud explosion. From the window we saw smoke in the house facing us. It was directly hit and was filled with smoke.
"The cylinder of our door downstairs was flung due to the shockwave. It's unbelievable that our daughters have to witness such an attraction on Shabbat," she added.
Two additional rockets landed earlier near a synagogue and an education institution in Sderot and another landed near an educational institution within the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries, but a building in Sderot sustained damage.
Worshippers near synagogue hit by rocket (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
One of the worshippers at the synagogue told Ynet, "We heard the explosion and were certain that the Qassam had landed inside our synagogue. The place is close to a school, and we thank the Lord on this day for the fact that no child was hurt by shrapnel or killed, God forbid."
The rest of the rockets and mortars landed in open areas in the western Negev. There were no reports of injuries, but one of the rockets started a fire outside Sderot.
The rockets were fired following three Israel Defense Forces strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday night. Palestinian sources reported that five Hamas gunmen were killed in two IDF strikes in the southern Strip town of Rafah. In a third strike, the army hit a gunmen cell moving near the border fence.
Palestinian organizations, including Hamas' military wing – the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have claimed responsibility for the rockets fired into the western Negev on Saturday morning. Hamas' military wing reported that its members fired 15 rockets and mortar shells in response to the Israel Air Force strikes Friday night.
Israeli killed by mortar shell
The first strike occurred several hours after 48-year-old Jimmy Kdoshim, a member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the western Negev, was killed by a mortar shell fired by Palestinian gunmen.
Three people were injured in the attack. A soldier was moderately injured by shrapnel and evacuated by helicopter to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Two other people sustained light injuries and several others suffered shock.
Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the mortar attack. People in mosques across Gaza were heard cheering and calling "Allahu Akbar" following reports of the deadly attack.
Hours later, Israeli aircraft sent missiles slamming into two Hamas police stations in southern Gaza, killing five militants, Hamas and Gaza health officials said. The Israeli military confirmed the airstrikes and said they were in retaliation for attacks on Israel, including the deadly mortar fire on Kfar Aza.
The Israeli delegation to the United Nations filed a letter of complaint with the UN secretary-general over the deadly mortar attack at the western Negev.
Israel urged the UN to denounce any act of violence and terror, and warned that it would not sit idly by while its citizens were under a terror attack
Yonat Atlas, Ze'ev Trachtman and Ali Waked contributed to this report