A 30-year-old Thai foreign worker was killed Thursday after a Qassam rocket hit a greenhouse in Netiv Ha'asara in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, north of the Gaza Strip. Magen David Adom emergency units tried to resuscitate the man but were eventually pronounced him dead.
The rocket exploded inside the greenhouse, causing it and adjacent greenhouses severe damage. Sappers spent a considerable amount of time dismantling and collecting the rocket's remains.
According to estimates, several of the site's workers didn't respond to the Color Red alert which sounded in the community prior to the hit.
"A Color Red alert was sounded," one of the community's residents related. "We ran to find cover. There were about 20 seconds until we heard a very loud explosion. I saw the smoke and realized it hit a greenhouse compound belonging to one of the local residents, where a group of Thai workers was employed. To the best of my knowledge there are concrete shelters and one would have made it there on time, but apparently the workers didn't respond to the warnings," he added.
The attack marks the third time rockets have been fired into Israeli territory in the last 24 hours. On Wednesday night a rocket exploded in an open area in Sderot. Several hours earlier another rocket landed in the region causing two people to suffer from anxiety.
Workers gathered in the town in bid to instill calm (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)
The al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Suna Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. The group also claimed responsibility for the firing of a rocket which hit the Eshkol Regional Council last week. According to recent estimates there is a greater chance that radical Islamist elements will increase firing from Gaza, though Hamas, which controls the Strip, is doing its best to prevent such attacks at the present time.
During her visit to the Gaza Strip, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton condemned the firing of the rocket into Israel and said that she condemns "any kind of violence."
'Security hasn't been restored'
Ashkelon Coast Regional Council head Yair Farjun arrived at the scene and said, "The Qassam hit teaches us that security has not been restored to the western Negev communities and the state of calm is merely an illusion. We expect a proper response to this event."
Alon Shuster, head of the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council told Ynet, "Unfortunately, on the one hand we succeeded in achieving deterrence opposite Hamas, and on the other hand their weapons arsenal keeps on growing. It's a problem that needs solving.
"The last year was relatively quiet, residents returned to the region and business owners expanded their businesses. We hope the state of calm will be maintained further."
Prior to Wednesday's attack, the last rocket hitting Israeli territory was fired on Saturday night from the Gaza Strip. It landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council two days after an abandoned structure in the council was hit by a Qassam rocket. Israel's Air Force has been responding to Qassam attacks by striking terrorist targets in the Strip.
Ali Waked and AFP contributed to this report