Eight Qassam rockets were fired at communities in the Western Negev’s Eshkol Regional Council yesterday morning. There were no reports of injuries, but several houses were damaged.

Residents of the Eshkol Regional Council were ordered to enter fortified rooms. However, The Voice of Israel Radio correspondent Nissim Keinan reported that besides some old outdated shelters, most of the people in the Eshkol Regional Council do not have fortified rooms. Last week, the Israeli government refused to allocate funding to revamp these old outdated shelters or to build new fortified rooms.

Yesterday, several explosions were heard south of Sderot at around 10:10 a.m. local time. The rockets are believed to have landed in open fields, apart from one exploded on a kibbutz in the area.

A Sderot man sustained mild shrapnel injuries to his arm when a Qassam fell on a home Sunday evening. Four others were treated for shock. When the rocket fell, Motti Turjeman was building a bomb shelter.

“I went out for coffee with the workers when suddenly we heard the air raid siren. We ran to the stairwell and heard a huge explosion. The Qassam fell eight feet away, near the doghouse. I was sure the dog died and suddenly I saw him, alive, by a miracle, but apparently he became deaf,” Mr. Turjeman said.

As a result, The Israel Ministry of Defense announced that it was closing all supply routs from Israel into Gaza.

Amnesty International urged the Israeli government to put an end to what they called its “policy of collective punishment,” and claimed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was becoming more severe.

The human-rights group was asked if it would issue a statement of condemnation of the continuing Gazan attacks on Israeli towns, villages and collective farms. No response from Amnesty was forthcoming, however.

At the same time, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner also said she was “profoundly concerned about the consequences for the Gazan population of the complete closure of all Gaza crossings for deliveries of fuel and basic humanitarian assistance” and called on Israel to reopen the crossings.

Meanwhile, Israeli army officers have expressed surprise at recent news reports stating that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had instructed Israel Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to prepare for an operation in Gaza.

“What plans does the prime minister mean?” an officer asked, “The ones we presented to him two weeks ago or the ones he saw a month ago? All of the operational plans regarding Gaza were presented to the cabinet and the security cabinet a long time ago. The ministers are very familiar with them, they’re the ones who must decide what to do.”

Israeli Military Declares ‘Kill Zones’ In Gaza
The Middle East Newsline reports that the Israeli army has created a “kill zone” along the Israeli border with Gaza.

Israeli military sources say the Israeli southern command has set up a 984-foot lethal zone in the eastern Gaza Strip. They said any unauthorized Palestinian found in the zone would be shot by Israeli troops.

“Any fire must be approved by a senior commander, but this defines the parameters of our response,” a military source said.
The lethal zone was formed amid the spate of Hamas attacks on the Israeli security fence along the Gaza border.

They said Hamas has been organizing infiltration squads and constructing tunnels in the eastern Gaza Strip.

Israeli troops have been operating in eastern Gaza and striking suspected Palestinian squads. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have responded with missile and mortar strikes on Israeli communities.

“Hamas is growing stronger, and we are losing our deterrence,” Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and former Israel military chief of staff, said.

FM Livni Expresses Distress To British Foreign Minister
Speaking at her meeting with British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband on Sunday, Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed her distress about the situation in Sderot and Gaza.

“These are difficult days. While we are speaking here Israeli citizens are under attack by Hamas. Israel cannot just sit by and watch as its citizens are attacked and we expect the international community to support Israel when it defends its citizens,” Ms. Livni said. “Hamas is taking advantage of the situation in Gaza to try and garner international support. The international community must make it clear that this is unacceptable. Just as Hamas is to blame for the attacks on Israel, so is Hamas is also responsible for the situation in Gaza and of the people living there. When Israel is attacked – Israel must respond.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com


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David Bedein
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.