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