Southern Israel under fire: Three days after Operation Cast Lead was launched, Hamas has stepped up its attacks on Israel Monday evening. Heavy mortar shell and rocket barrages rained on Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot and the western Negev, leaving two people dead and at least nine wounded, with two of them sustaining serious to critical injuries.
Irit Sheetrit, 39, was killed after rockets fired from Gaza exploded in the coastal town of Ashdod north of Ashkelon. Although she managed to get out of her car and take cover on the ground, she was wounded critically and later succumbed to her injuries. Her sister, Ayelet Morduch, was also in the vechile and sustained light wounds.
Ashdod attack aftermath (Photo: Avi Rokach)
The two sisters were on their way back home from the gym when a rocket explodede near their car shortly after 9 pm. Sheetrit is survived by her husband and four children. Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the shooting.
The Magen David Adom emergency services said three more people were lightly injured in the attack. Several people were treated for shock at the site. All injured were taken to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
The hospital's Deputy Director, Dr. Eitan Haver, said both sisters sustained wounds to their entire body.
"We were dealing with serious injuries; it was clear that the missile landed near them," he said. "The deceased sustained shrapnel wounds to her entire body."
Earlier Monday, Palestinians fired mortar shells at the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, killing IDF career officer 38-year-old Master Sergeant Lutfi Nasraldin from Dalyat el Carmel, and injuring five soldiers, one of them critically and the other lightly. The troops were hurt after a shell hit their base.
The injured were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
The Salah al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said they were behind the strike.
Rocket reaches Yavne
Later Monday, rockets were fired at the town of Ofakim; one person sustained moderate head wounds and was taken to hospital, along with three people who suffered from anxiety. A rocket also landed in the Yavne area, some 40 kilometers away from Gaza, making the furthest point hit by Hamas thus far.
Two rockets landed in Ashkelon Monday evening, one of them inside the yard of an elementary school located close to several kindergartens. Some of the buildings sustained heavy damage and residents reported of power outages as a result of the explosion.
Some 80 rockets have been fired at israel throughout Monday. Hani al-Mahdi, 27, was killed after a Grad rocket directly hit a construction site in Ashkelon in the morning hours. Sixteen people were injured in the strike.
Ilana Curiel contributed to the report