Rockets fired at Ashdod, Ashkelon; top Hamas man killed
Ground operation in Strip underway, and Palestinians continue firing rockets into Israel. Fire breaks out in Ashdod store; woman lightly injured. Another man lightly hurt by shrapnel in Eshkol Regional Council. Hamas member responsible for rocket fire assassinated in air strike
A number of rockets exploded in the Ashdod area Sunday afternoon. One of them hit a store in the port city and started a fire. A woman was lightly injured and evacuated to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. One man suffered shock.
A man was lightly injured by shrapnel in the Eshkol Regional Council. Rockets also landed near Ashkelon and within the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. There were no injuries.
Yossi Cohen, the manager of the store hit, said, "I was in my office when I suddenly heard a loud explosion. I then realized that the missile had exploded 5 meters (16.5 feet) from my office, in the middle of the store. I went outside fast and heard the girls shouting. I ran to see how they were."
Cohen said an air raid siren did not sound before the rocket landed. "I don't want to think about the disaster that could have happened here. The fact that the siren was not sounded is very severe."
According to sources at the Home Front Command, the Ashdod rocket alert system is working and the local malfunction is being looked into.
Earlier, a rocket hit an apartment building in the town of Sderot. Several residents suffered shock. Additional Qassams exploded near the city without causing injuries.
Three rockets were fired at Netivot. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Meanwhile, the ground and aerial offensive continued in Gaza: Hussam Hamdan, a senior Hamas member responsible for the organization's rocket fire, was killed in an air strike Sunday morning. According to the IDF, he was the man behind the firing of Grad missiles towards the cities of Beersheba and Ofakim.
Muhammad Hilou, who was responsible for Hamas' special forces in Khan Younis and for the firing of long-range rockets, was also hurt in the strike.
Government approves additional draft
The government convened Sunday morning for its weekly cabinet meeting at the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert opened the meeting with a few words to the mothers of IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip.
"This morning, I can look each of you in the eye and say that the government has done everything it could before it decided to launch the operation. This was an inevitable operation," he said.
The government approved an emergency draft of tens of thousands of additional reserve soldiers, some of whom will replace the regular forces which have moved from the West Bank and northern Israel to Gaza.
Hanan Greenberg and Roni Sofer contributed to this report