Qassam rocket lands near day care center in Sderot
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
Israel Defense Forces soldiers scrambled to evacuate babies from a day
care center in rocket-scarred Sderot on Monday after a Qassam rocket fired by
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip thudded into its courtyard.
The rocket was one of seven to be fired from the Gaza Strip into the
western Negev on Monday. The Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility
for the rocket attacks, calling them "a gift for the opening of the school
Twelve children suffered from shock after the strike on the southern
town, and were evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for treatment.
Frantic parents across the city - already furious over the government's
failure to protect them and their children from the near-daily rocket fire -
reportedly pulled their children out of schools on the second day of the
academic year, and said they would not send their children to school on Tuesday.
Natalie, a caretaker at the center, told Army Radio that "in the adjacent
classroom, which was closer to the site of impact, they didn't hear the alert
until shattered glass fell on them. It's a matter of seconds between the 'Red
Color' alert and the moment of impact."
"Some of the children were screaming and we are trying to calm them down. I
also considered abandoning the city, I left for a month in the past. I'm still
thinking of leaving. I have a child and I won't let him experience this," she
Batya Katar, head of the Sderot Parents Association, said parents were
pulling all 2,500 of the town's students out of school. "Buses are already on
the way to pick up students who haven't been taken home yet," Katar said over
the phone, the voices of panicked parents audible in the background. "The
government promised to move students out of the city if there was an escalation
in Palestinian rocket fire," she said. "This is an escalation, but there is no
sign of any solution," she added.
Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, accused the government of abandoning his city.
"They simply don't care," he told Army Radio.
Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel
will soon have to consider a wider ground operation in Gaza. "At some stage,
decided by Israel, there will be no choice but to wage a campaign in the Gaza
Strip," he told Army Radio.
Wary parents in Sderot threatened not to send their children to school on
the first day of the year on Sunday. But they lifted the strike threat after
being promised the schools were properly protected and that shelters had been
To calm jittery residents ahead of the school year, the military dispatched
more than 200 soldiers to accompany students back to school in Sderot and
instruct them on emergency procedures.
An IDF operation aimed at eliminating the Islamic Jihad cell responsible
for the recent Qassam fire on Israel failed Sunday, when an Israel Air Force
plane fired a missile at a car carrying Islamic Jihad militants in Khan Yunis.
The missile hit near the vehicle, lightly damaging it.
IDF forces arrested 24 Palestinian militants throughout the West Bank