Escalation in security situation around Strip goes up another notch as rocket falls south of the major southern city of Ashdod for first time since Operation Cast Lead; after midnight, army attacks terror cells, casualties reported; earlier IDF accidentally kills Palestinian civilians, takes out Islamic Jihad rocket-launching cell
Residents of Beersheba neighborhood hit by rocket fume after discovering public bomb shelters locked at 5:30 am. 'People waited outside with children, we have been abandoned to our fate,' says resident
Latest Update: 03.23.11
A 56-year old man was lightly injured early Wednesday morning when a Grad rocket fired from Gaza exploded in Beersheba.
Four hours later, another Grad rocket hit open spaces near the southern city. Security forces are still looking for the rocket. Several mortar shells also exploded in Eshkol Regional Council, but no injuries or damage were reported.
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said military choppers fired missiles at a terror cell near Gaza City.
The Beersheba man was hit by glass shards from a pane that shattered from the explosion. Three people also sustained shock, and infrastructure was damaged.
The Islamic Jihad movement claimed responsibility for the Grad rocket that fell at 5:30 am. A statement issued by the organization said, "This is an initial reaction to the Zionist crimes against our people in Gaza."
The old buildings in the neighborhood in which the rocket fell are not equipped with bomb shelters. Residents had to leave their homes in order to seek shelter, and were infuriated to discover that many of the bomb shelters were locked.
"People waited outside with small children," Narkis Sasson, who resides in the neighborhood, told Ynet. "We have been abandoned to our fate."
"This time it hit a road but next time it will hit someone. There is no public security," added Barry Shalit. "An entire neighborhood has been abandoned."
'Blast threw me into dining room'
The first rocket explosion caught worshippers at a local synagogue off guard, during morning prayers. They hid in the kitchen, Rabbi Yisrael Hadad said, as the synagogue does not have a bomb shelter. "The miracle was that shattered glass landed right where the cantor was supposed to be standing," he recounted.
Norbert Nahum, the man who was lightly injured Wednesday morning, told Ynet he had been thoroughly shaken up. "I still feel pain in my chest, and the shard that hit me will stay there," he said, recalling the injury he sustained while standing near his window.
"I was shaking and crying. After I was injured, the blast threw me all the way to the dining room. I saw the fire as the rocket fell." But Nahum insists, "Despite everything, even if the violence escalates, we will stay here."
Grad fired from Gaza lands near Ashdod
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Grad rocket towards Ashdod Tuesday night, marking the first time the Israeli city has been targeted since Operation Cast Lead.
The rocket apparently landed in an open area south of Ashdod. There were no reports of injury or damage. Security forces were searching for the rocket's exact landing site.
Early Wednesday, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sirens were also heard in Gan Yavne and Kiryat Malachi, with some residents reporting that they heard explosions.
"People here are panicking," Ashdod resident Yair Shalom told Ynet. "I saw my neighbors running downstairs frantically, and people on the street leaving their cars behind and running to secure areas."
Shortly after the Grad attack Palestinians reported that Israeli Navy ships were shelling an open area near Beit Lahiya in north Gaza. Later they reported of an Israeli attack on a terror cell east of Gaza City's Zeitun neighborhood.
The Palestinians reported of casualties at the scene, adding that the Israeli army attacked another terror cells near the Sajaiya neighborhood. Later, sources in Gaza said that one Islamic Jihad member was killed in one of the strikes and three others were wounded. The Islamic Jihad denied that a terrorist was killed, saying he was seriously injured but survived.
Click to view image: 'Beersheba under attack '
Click to view image: 'Grad rocket hits Beersheba '
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