Jerusalem – At around 2 a.m. yesterday, Arabs from Gaza fired rockets into an Israeli army basic training camp near Kibbutz Zikim, just north of the Gaza Strip, injuring 69 soldiers.

Twenty-seven Magen David Adom ambulances rushed to the scene and two helicopters also helped evacuate the injured, who suffered from shrapnel injuries to their extremities. A number of the young soldiers also suffered from shock. The injured were sent to hospitals across Israel.

“We arrived and we saw a huge mess,” said Yoni Namir, a volunteer with Magen David Adom who was among the first to arrive on the scene. “Everyone was hysterical and was screaming. They looked as if they’d been woken up from their sleep by the attack.”

Dr. Emile Hai, the deputy director of Barzilai Hospital, said that 65 soldiers from the base had arrived at the hospital. Two of them were transferred to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, four were transferred to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and one was transferred to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

“We were sitting in the clinic and suddenly we heard the Red Color alert,” said a medic on the base. “We ran to the company encampment and everyone was hysterical over there. The soldiers were screaming. We began to treat them immediately.

“Sometimes there’s a Red Color siren on the base twice a day. It isn’t rare,” continued the medic. “The soldiers were asleep, and that’s why they didn’t have time to get to a protected area and it took even longer before they understood what had happened.”

In response, the Israeli Air Force fired at open areas in the northern Gaza Strip from where these rockets were fired into Israel.

Meanwhile, senior Israeli cabinet ministers reacted with statements that Israel will undoubtedly respond with military action. Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon had a meeting yesterday morning with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and told him that Israel cannot continue to overlook such attacks indefinitely.

However, the U.S. State Department issued a strong statement that advised Israel against retaliatory measures against Gaza. In the words of the U.S., as reported on the Israeli government radio news at midnight yesterday, “Israel must consider the consequences of any action in Gaza that might hurt the peace conference planned with Abbas.”

Accordingly Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said yesterday that a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip was not the only option in dealing with constant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

“We need to use other means, not only military ones, in the Gaza Strip. But we need to say the truth, that other means will not stop the Qassams,” she said during a meeting with her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.