Jerusalem, Aug. 16 - Terrorists in Hamas-run Gaza fired a long-range grad-rocket at Israel yesterday. It struck Beersheba, one of Israel’s largest cities with a population of approximately 200,000, located 25 miles (40 km) from the Israeli-Gaza border.
Nobody was killed in the attack but residents were forced to rush for the safety of bomb shelters as sirens rang out. Parents, children and the elderly ran for cover under concrete ceilings if they could not reach bomb shelters. “My kids were running around, it was a bit tense,” a nearby resident, Menachem Yidov, said about the attack, Israel’s YNet reported.
So far this year, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired 365 rockets and mortars at Israel – which is 127 more rockets and mortars than the 238 fired in all of last year. Before February of this year, Beersheba had not been targeted by rocket attacks since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s defensive against Hamas in Gaza at the end of 2008.
The Israel Air Force (IAF) targeted Hamas fighters in Gaza in response to the attack. It also thwarted another rocket-attack attempt by striking a smuggling tunnel. One armed Hamas operative was killed and two other Hamas fighters and three civilians were injured in the retaliation.
Splinter terror groups have launched a number of the recent attacks on southern Israel. Iran-backed Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, has either failed to prevent the attacks or has turned its back on such terrorist activities. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “holds the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip,” it said in a media statement.
Beersheba’s mayor, Rubik Danilovitch, plans to ask Defense Minister Ehud Barak to redeploy Iron Dome battery in the city. Iron Dome is a protective barrier that intercepts short-range rockets and artillery shells that are fired from Gaza. It shoots down incoming rockets and artillery shells before they hit Israeli civilians. A new innovation, the Iron Dome was installed in April and has already intercepted more than eight rockets from Gaza.
The system averts the need for a ground incursion into Gaza. It is a key component of Israel’s security policy against the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza.
Last week, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired three mortar shells at another region in southern Israel, Shaar Hanegev, located just north of Gaza. There was structural damage and the rocket alert system alerted residents to run for cover.
“Close to 30 rockets were fired into Israel since the beginning of July,” The Jerusalem Post reported. Due to the escalation in rocket fire from Gaza, Defense Minister Barak decided to deploy an Iron Dome anti-rocket system outside Ashkelon, a city near the targeted area.