Grad Missile Launched from Gaza at Ashkelon



By: DAN VERBIN  
Published: July 30th 2010
in News » Israel

Ashkelon
Pic: wikimedia commons

A rocket launched on Friday morning at Ashkelon from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by Palestinian militants is causing tensions to heat up.

 

The IDF reported that the rocket was a Chinese-made Grad model that landed close to high-rise apartments in Ashkelon, 12 miles away. There have been no serious injuries reported, but eight people suffered shock, according to a report in Ynet, and were treated by Magen David Adom crews. Multiple high-rise and car windows in the area were shattered.

 

A witness to the attack told Israel Radio, "Suddenly there was a boom, as if the rocket was falling on my head.” He added that he retreated to his balcony where he saw smoke and damage from the blast, including broken apartment and car windows.

 

Another witness told Ynet: "The warning was very long. It gave us time to go in and wait in the fortified room until we heard the explosion. It's different from what we are used to, but it's good. I think it helped those who were still outside the building get into a fortified area."

 

The Aza Din al-Kassem Gazan terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Israeli officials have also stated that they are holding Hamas responsible.

 

The rocket was launched from a spot close to the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

 

On Friday afternoon, a second explosion took place in the Eshkol Regional Council when two mortal shells landed there. According to Ynet, there were no injuries.

 

Since the Gaza war in 2009, rocket attacks have almost stopped. However, school is just around the corner and parents are becoming worried.

 

IDF officials stated that they are optimistic that Friday’s rocket attack does not signal that start of a renewed campaign of rockets being launched from Gaza. However, they noted that terrorist groups have arsenals of long range rockets.

 

"The Grad exploded about 40 meters (131 feet) from a populated area, and the civilians' behavior – which I hope will continue – has prevented and can prevent casualties in the future as well," Colonel Eitan Yitzhak, Commander of the Home Front Command's southern district told Ynet.

 

He went on to say that the rocket was fired from what is now considered relatively short distance. Previously, when the rockets were much less sophisticated, the distance from Gaza to Ashkelon was  considered a relatively long distance. “Now the terror organizations have rockets which could reach more distant areas, proving that they have improved their abilities,” he said. “Therefore, our systems are operating here regularly and we are attentive to the residents."

 

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin told the Jerusalem Post that the missile exploded in the middle of a residential area whose citizens have experience with such attacks. He stated that many schools and day-care centres in Ashkelon are not equipped against such attacks and asked the Defence Ministry to step up work to fortify the area against attacks.

 

Related articles: (Ashkelon, grad missile, Hamas, rocket)


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