Seven rockets were fired from Gaza Strip on Saturday at Israel, two of which struck a school in Ashkelon, causing extensive property damage. Being Saturday, school was out and no one was injured.

Since Israel’s Gaza incursion ended slightly more than a month ago, more than 100 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel.

Saturday’s rocket was found in a schoolyard, which at that time, on an ordinary day, could have been filled with hundreds of pupils running about. The school was hit hard, with classrooms destroyed and shrapnel found in places the Home Front Command’s engineers had described as areas that are supposed to be “protected” during rocket strikes. However, the upgraded Gaza rocket’s warhead contained new and more powerful explosives.

Ashkelon schools were open as usual yesterday morning, which, in Israel, represents the beginning of the school week. However, the pupils from the high school that was struck by the rocket traveled to Tel Aviv for school.

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The resurgence of rocket fire from Gaza and the absence of what is perceived as a significant Israeli military response had both IDF officers and news commentators on the major Israeli radio stations up in arms yesterday morning.

Officers of the Israeli army southern command told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, “The political echelon is not keeping its promise of a disproportionate response to the rocket fire. At first, they attacked rocket-launching cells and cells that were responsible for terror attacks. Today, they’re not even doing that. Escalation in the Gaza Strip is only a matter of time.”

A high-ranking officer who participated in the Gaza incursion told the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv that: “If the upper echelons should decide on another operation, we are ready. At the moment, that’s not on the agenda.”

Yet another high-ranking security official told the Voice of Israel radio that, “At the current stage, we should have already have been solid about a truce agreement. Israel’s behavior has led to a situation in which rockets continue to fall upon Israel. In this current transitional period, the prime minister and defense minister can’t make decisions about an operation. The responses are limited, but in another two weeks, things will appear different.”

The statements of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni promising a “significant response” to the missiles on Ashkelon immediately became the subject of almost every satire on the Israeli TV and radio throughout the day, since there was no real Israeli military response to yet another attack on sovereign Israeli soil.

Over the past month, the Israeli army has refrained from attacking significant targets in Gaza, focusing instead on attacking arms-smuggling tunnels beneath the border passages into Israel.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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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.