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 However, The Voice of Israel Radio correspondent Nissim Keinan reported that besides some old outdated shelters, most of the people in the Eshkol Regional Council do not have fortified rooms. Last week, the Israeli government refused to allocate funding to revamp these old outdated shelters or to build new fortified rooms.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