Archives for August 2011

8.26.2011 – Family Affair / The Peris and the Jowamises

By Avner Avrahami | Aug.26, 2011 | 2:46 PM

Peris, Jowamis.

The Peris and their hosts, the Jowamis family. Photo by Reli Avrahami

In the last installment of this column, two families live together in the Bedouin village of Beit Zarzir.

W The cast: Amir (57 ), Betty (56 ), Ya’ar (31 ), Osnat (30 ), Avner (4 ), Tamar (3 ), Khaled (61 ), Fatma (60 ) and little Khaled (13 ). Not in the photo: Yuli (16 ), a foster daughter, who has essentially been adopted by Betty and Amir; and Tal (28 ), a student, who lives in Haifa.

W Who’s who: Amir and Betty Peri are Ya’ar’s parents; Osnat and Ya’ar are the parents of Avner and Tamar; Khaled and Fatma Jowamis are the hosts; and little Khaled, their grandson, is here by chance for a visit.

W Story in a nutshell: Amir and Betty sold their home in Givat Elah (a neighboring community ) and decided to build a new home in Shadmot Dvora (near Kfar Tavor ). In the course of the construction they changed their mind and decided to stay in Givat Elah until Yuli finishes high school (in two years ). As a result they had to find a place to rent immediately. A place was found but won’t be available until September. Khaled and Fatma heard about the Peris’ problem and responded: “Please, come stay with us.” The offer was accepted and in June the Peris from Givat Elah moved to Beit Zarzir for three months. How did Khaled and Fatma hear about the straits in which Amir and Betty found themselves? All will be revealed.

W Highway 7626: After taking a left at the mosque, the narrow paved entrance to the Jowamis’ compound passes between olive groves. We drive in and on the right, on a concrete terrace, stands the family’s large house (two-story, light-orange stucco, decorative stones, and shaded parking area between the pillars ); on the left is the house allotted to the Peri family.

W Allotted house: The dwelling is flat and wide, with a light metal roof, ceramic-tile floor, aluminum-sided windows, orange walls (“a starling loft” Betty calls it: zarzir means “starling” in Hebrew ). The space is divided into two parallel halls along which cloth curtains have been hung to compartmentalize the temporary living quarters. The right-hand hall contains the Peris’ living-room furniture (white and blue sofas, Danish armchairs ) and a heavy dining table. The young Peri family (Ya’ar, Osnat and the children ) is ensconced behind a curtain and has spread a communal sleeping mat on the floor, in addition to the beds arranged along the wall. Betty, Amir and Yuli are living in the second hall, on the left; Betty and Amir have their own room; and Yuli has an enclosed area with a bed, computer corner and a copy of “The Little Prince” (in English ). Also here (in the second hall ) is the kitchen, which has been moved from Givat Elah. We peek in: Stuffed vegetables (Fatma’s handiwork ) are simmering on the gas cookers. Later we will see another kitchen, in the rear, which plays an important role in the lives of the two families.

W Midday: The fans do their best; there is no air conditioning. We sit outside in the parking area below the Jowamis’ house, and are served fruit and coffee. A light breeze blows from the direction of the olive groves and we discover an interesting detail.

W Interesting detail: Fatma and Khaled lived in the house they have placed (for free ) at the Peri’s disposal and moved to the big house, which actually belongs to their young (and single ) son, Uzi. The question now arises: How did the two families become friends?

W Friends: It’s all thanks to Amna, Khaled and Fatma’s 8-year-old granddaughter, who attends a school in the Arab village of Manshiat Zebda, in the Jezreel Valley, where Betty is a teacher. When Khaled heard about Betty and Amir’s housing problem, he said without hesitation, “Ahlan wasahlan (welcome ).”

W In the meantime: Ya’ar and Osnat and their children left Kibbutz Neot Smadar (north of Eilat ) and joined their parents for the village idyll in Beit Zarzir.

W Village idyll: Every morning at around 7, Betty and Fatma meet over a cup of coffee (granulated instant ) in the shade of the olive trees next to the rear kitchen, in order to plan the evening’s joint meal. The options include combinations of maluhiya (a green salad ), maklubeh (a chicken dish ), stuffed vegetables and schnitzel dipped in whole-wheat bread crumbs (a recipe from Osnat, even though she is a vegetarian ). At the same time, Amir and Khaled have their morning coffee together (made with Nachle brand Turkish coffee from Shfaram ).

W Livelihoods and occupations: Khaled is a pensioner. Until taking early retirement due to a heart problem, he was a security guard and a “night guide” at Ramat Hadassah boarding school near Tivon, which is attended by new-immigrant children with special needs. “These days I am not doing anything,” he says in a satisfied tone. Fatma follows her longtime routine of cooking, cleaning and praying five times a day in her room. She whispers the prayers, only her lips move. The first prayers are recited at 4 A.M., the last at 9:30 P.M. In between, she takes care of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She and Khaled have 10 children, 32 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. This evening they are going to a wedding (“We give NIS 150-200 in cash” ); on other days they watch the Channel 2 news and the “The Money Taxi,” an Israeli game show. Fatma also likes to watch the Lotto lottery winners’ show (“although I don’t have a ticket” ).

W The Peri family’s occupations: Amir is an architect who a year ago gave up designing “the houses in the extension projects” – referring to new residential construction on kibbutzim and moshavim – and environmental planning in favor of education, an old dream. He is currently a teacher’s assistant in the anthroposophic high school on Kibbutz Harduf. He is happy, he says. His work consists of being in the classroom (alongside the teacher ) and assisting children with various disabilities.

W Teacher’s salary: “I never made a lot of money, and because we recently finished paying off our mortgage, I can allow myself to do it.” The family is supportive (“We urged him for years to do this” – Betty ).

W Betty: She is an agronomist, a graduate of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot. After years of working in the profession, including at the Agriculture Ministry, she switched to “therapeutic gardening” and now works in two special-education schools in Galilee; one in Manshiat Zebda, the other in Nazareth, both for Arab children. As part of her work, she and the children grow house plants, herbs and spices in hothouses. Gardening, she says, is essentially therapeutic and empowers people (“Those who receive special care now care for plants” ).

W Amir’s bio: He was born on Kibbutz Eyal in 1954, to native-born parents, served in the Nahal paramilitary brigade, saw action in the Yom Kippur War (at the Suez Canal ), met Betty (on Kibbutz Gonen ) and studied architecture at an engineering college in Haifa.

W Betty: Her full name is Beatrice. She was born in 1955, in Concordia, Argentina, immigrated with her family to Israel (to Moshav Nir Zvi ) in 1959, attended Ramle-Lod High School (biology track ), served in Nahal and met Amir.

W The meeting: It took place in 1975, on Kibbutz Gonen. One of the kibbutz children found a baby falcon in Kiryat Shmona, and Betty, who was there, was advised to take the bird to “Amir, who raises falcons.” The falcon flew off after two months but the ties between Amir and Betty remained solid. At night they went to the banks of one of the tributaries of the Jordan River (“That was where the romance was” ).

W The wedding: It took place in 1976 on Moshav Nir Zvi, in the yard of her parents’ house. Betty was in a white bridal gown from Maskit and Swedish clogs; Amir wore a light-blue shirt, canvas slacks (fashionable at the time ) and “biblical” sandals. All their children were born at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot; Amir says he was one of the first husbands in Israel to be present at a birth. They took Yuli into their hearts in 2002.

W Yuli: The daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, she has lived with the Peris (as her foster family ) since she was seven, and has no ties with her biological parents. She says she has always felt completely like a Peri – the little sister of Ya’ar and Tal. She attends WIZO high school in Nahalal, volunteers with the Magen David Adom emergency medical service , is studying voice development and will “probably” do a year of national service before being drafted. She sees her future as a singer, but will not take part in “A Star Is Born” (Israel’s version of “American Idol” ) – “so people won’t say, ‘She was on ‘A Star Is Born.'”

W Ya’ar: He is a gardener (works in the area ) and a student enrolled in the preparatory program at Emek Yezreel College; he plans to study economics and business administration. He did his military service in the Paratroops (“paramedic in the 890th” ) and left Kibbutz Neot Smadar with his family a year ago after eight years; he says he has a head for big economic enterprises.

W Osnat: She was born on Kibbutz Kissufim, met Ya’ar in Neot Smadar, currently teaches Pilates and gives private lessons in mathematics to local children. Next year she will teach mathematics and computers at the University of Haifa.

W Leaving kibbutz: “We enjoyed what we got there,” Ya’ar says, “but felt there were other things we had to try out.” He adds that he left “with empty pockets but ‘rich’ because of my wife and two children.”

W Living with the folks: “Terrific.” It started as a necessary economic move, he says, and became a pleasure (“We will want to live together in the future, too” ).

W Avner and Tamar: They attend preschools on Kibbutz Ramat David (NIS 4,500 a month for the two ). Transportation is based on “family planning every evening.”

W Dreams: “For the children to continue with us” – Betty; “I am now living the dream” – Amir; “To marry off Uzi, the 10th child” – Khaled; “To stay Betty’s friend” – Fatma.

W Peace: “We will start with two states for the two peoples,” Betty says. “I believe in man and his spirit, like Tchernichovsky did.”

W Happiness quotient (scale of 1-10 ): Amir – 8-10; Betty – 8; Ya’ar 9.5; Osnat – “from 1 to 10, and today 9”; Khaled – 8, Fatma – 9, Yuli – “from 4 to 10.”

The place

Beit Zarzir – A Bedouin village northwest of Nazareth, founded in 1963, with a population of 5,500 people who come from five tribes.

The “Family Affair” column has come to an end. We thank the readers and the Haaretz Magazine staff – Avner and Reli Avrahami.

08.24.2011 – An effective intervention to limit the spread of an epidemic …

An effective intervention to limit the spread of an epidemic 
Infectious Diseases Unit, Kaplan Medical CenterRehovot, Israel; Corresponding Author Information Address correspondence to Pnina Ciobotaro, MD, 

8.24.2011 – Preparing a child’s body and mind for 1st day at school

LAST UPDATED: 08/24/2011 06:54

Remind children about meeting old friends, making new ones; tell your six-year-old she is not the first to feel nervous or excited.

First grade school children

With little more than a week remaining until school begins on September 1, children and teens should already begin to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for class to begin.

For the majority who have gone to sleep late – even not long before sunrise – and awakened after noon, the time has come to re-set their biological clocks.

Experts at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot offered ideas to help children – and their parents – cope with the return to normalcy and for first-graders to take their first day of school as easy as possible.

Tell your six-year-old she is not the first to feel nervous or excited about going to school for the first time. Teachers are aware of this and will make a special effort to make them feel comfortable.

Emphasize the positive aspects of the first day of class, meeting old friends and new ones. After the first day is over, remind the children they came back in a good mood and had fun. Try to find another child in your neighborhood who can accompany yours to school with you.

Make sure your child eats a good breakfast before leaving, as it is important to give energy and ensure concentration during the first part of the day. Studies have shown that children who have a nutritious meal, even a bowl of sugarless cereal with milk, a sandwich, energy bar, fruit or yogurt, do considerably better in their studies than those who come to school without first having eaten. Having breakfast also reduces the risk of eating junk food and obesity.

 If you think your child wants to go accompanied to school, go with her. If there is organized transportation, prepare in advance on how your child will get there and give instructions not to cross the street alone. Seatbelts should always be fastened in a car, minibus or van.

Older children should be taught and reminded how to cross streets at crosswalks and to look both ways. Jerusalem children must be specially briefed on how to cope with the new light rail.

Schoolbags now must be suited to the needs, height and weight of the children.

A poorly fitted bag can cause chronic back and shoulder pains. Don’t let the bag hang more than 10 centimeters below the waist. The contents must not weigh more than 15 percent of a child’s weight. The backstraps must be padded and positioned properly so the child can walk erect. The back should also be padded, and sharp objects should be covered and not reach the child’s body. Anything that doesn’t need to be taken home should be stored in a locker or another place in class.

If food is not distributed in school, prepare nutritious and appetizing food to take along every day.

First graders must undergo eye exams before starting school, according to Education Ministry rules. But there are children who are not tested and have problems seeing the board, causing problems with their studies. Problems in copying from the board and unwillingness to read and write regularly may mask vision problems. Headaches may be another sign.

Older children who have access to the Internet should be taught not to provide any personal information to strangers.

Warn your children in the event of them being threatened or otherwise disturbed by others in class or outside. Explain how and when to seek help.

It is not recommended that children younger than nine or 10 return to an empty home. They still need supervision unless they are unusually responsible. If you have no choice, set a time when the child must call you by phone.

Every child must have a permanent place for doing homework that allows privacy and quiet. Set rules by which TV is turned off while doing lessons.

Make sure the child goes to sleep at an appropriate time so she can wake up in time to leave for school. Those aged three to six should sleep 11 to 12 hours daily; aged six to 12 need 10 to 11 hours; ages 12 through 18 need nine hours sleep a day.

If a teacher or parent suspects learning, hyperactivity or attention-deficit problems, discuss the issue and ask for referral to a specialist.

Teachers, too, have to prepare themselves for the school year, which can often result in hoarseness from calluses forming on the vocal cords. Frequent shouting, stress, smoking, allergies, throat infections and other problems requires teachers to consult with an otolaryngologist.

Teachers with large or unruly classes should use a microphone to reduce the burden of speaking. Eliminate all unnecessary background noises. Demand that air conditioners and fans do not operate noisily.

8.23.2011 – US Envoy to Israel, Amb. D. Shapiro visits KMC – Video Feed

Ambassador Daniel Shapiro meets with wounded civilians in Kaplan Medical Center  post missile attacks on southern Israel.

“My visit was incredibly moving and I appreciate the opportunity to send a message of solidarity to you, your patients, and the people of Israel, in the face of such cowardly terror attacks. The professionalism, care and attention provided by the Kaplan Medical Center team is exceptional, and I reiterate the hope of President Obama and the American people for a full recovery to the patients I had the pleasure of meeting, and to all of those being treated at Kaplan. Thank you again for opening your doors to me.”

(From Amb. Daniel B. Shapiro’s letter to the KMC’s CEO, Prof. Jacob. Yahav, Aug. 24th, 2011 )

8.21.2011 – Israel fears further escalation in south

Man killed, dozens injured in rocket attacks in worst day seen in southern Israel since Operation Cast Lead. Defense officials say Gaza terror groups must suffer heavy blow. ‘We have to restore deterrence, make price clear to other side’Hanan Greenberg

Published: 08.21.11, 02:56 / Israel News
The defense establishment is preparing to escalate its response against Israel since one man killed, a woman critically injured and several people sustaining light to moderate wounds in a rocket attack on the city of Beersheba. A two-week-old baby was lightly injured in Ofakim.
Defense establishment officials fear that the extent of rocket attacks from Gaza will increase Sunday. Due to the situation, the National Emergency Management Authority storage facilities will be opened in the morning

זירת הנפילה בבאר-שבע (צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)
Scene of rocket attack in Beersheba (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

While the government’s eight top ministers were holding a meeting into the night to discuss retaliation options, Israel Defense Forces officials said terror organization must suffer a heavy blow.

“We must restore deterrence, make it perfectly clear to the other side that it will pay a heavy price for hurting Israel’s citizens,” said a senior military source.

The IDF recently completed the preparation of different plans of action against Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations in the Strip – from surgical strike to a wide-scale operation.

Security sources say a variety of options for action were raised during weekend discussions, all focusing on the desire to boost Israel’s response.

“There’s no escape. We can’t ignore rockets fired at a civilian population,” one of the officials stressed.
טנקים בדרום. לפני פעולה? (צילום: AFP)
Tanks in south. Ahead of operation? (Photo: AFP)

According to estimates, the first stage will see the Israel Air Force increase its air strikes in the Strip. The IDF possesses a wide “bank” of targets, and it’s quite possible that during the current round, especially in light of Hamas’ growing involvement in the rocket fire, the army will hit targets it has avoided attacking so far.

Targeting the leaders of Hamas and the other terror organizations is also on the agenda, and may be the second stage of the Israeli response.

Military sources have admitted that this is a complicated period in light of the developments expected next month upon the Palestinian statehood declaration, and therefore “all considerations must be examined” before every operation.

 Dozens injured over weekend

According to police officials, Saturday was the worst day in terms of the number of rockets fired into Israel since Operation Cast Lead two and a half years ago – almost 60 rockets and mortar shells in 24 hours.

Massive police forces have been deployed in the southern cities and are working to maintain the citizens’ safety.

Dozens of people injured from the rocket fire were evacuated to hospitals over the weekend, including three illegal Palestinian residents, who were hurt while hiding in an orchard near Ashdod.

Ten people injured from a Grad rocket fired at Ashdod on Friday morning were evacuated to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. Eight of the injured have already been released, while the other two are still hospitalized in serious and moderate condition.

Three people were evacuated to the same hospital on Saturday, and another woman was rushed to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.

The Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba is still treating six Israelis who were injured in the terror attack on the Egyptian border. Three people, two of them children, were evacuated to the hospital on Saturday following a rocket attack on Ofakim.

The hospital is also treating a woman in critical condition, three people who were seriously wounded and a person lightly hurt in Saturday evening’s rocket attack on Beersheba.

Attila Somfalvi, Ilana Curiel and Neri Brener contributed to this report

8.20.2011 – Rocket salvo hits south

Ilana Curiel

Latest Update: 08.20.11, 19:21 / Israel News

Gaza terrorists launched an incessant rocket and mortar offensive at southern Israel Saturday, wounding at least 11 people across the region.

The barrages followed a declaration by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades Hamas military wing – saying that its armistice with Israel was over.

Saturday morning, the Color Red alert sounded in the greater Beersheba area. A subsequent explosion was reported in the city around 9 am. The projectile landed in an open area just outside Israel’s largest southern city, injuring one person lightly. Magen David Adom paramedics attended to both.

Seven other people suffered light injuries while running to a nearby shelter. They arrived at the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba independently.

Also Saturday, security forces confirmed that two rockets landed on the outskirts of Ashdod around 6 am. Three people – identified as illegal Palestinian aliens working in the local industrial area – suffered mild to serious injuries and were rushed to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. The Color Red alert sounded in the greater Ashdod area shortly beforehand.

Iron Dome does it again

The terror offensive continued Saturday afternoon, with four mortar shells fired at Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported. Seven more shells landed in open spaces in southern Israel by early evening.

Earlier, two rockets landed in the Lachish Regional Council around 12:30 pm. The Color Red alert sounded shortly before the explosion, both across the council’s communities, as well as in Kiryat Gat and Gan Yanve, near Ashdod.

One of the rockets exploded on a section of Highway 35, from Ashkelon to Kirtay Gat, damaging it severely. No injuries were reported; security forces have closed the area to traffic.

Rocket site outside Ashdod (Photo: Avi Rokach)
Rocket site outside Ashdod (Photo: Avi Rokach)

Shortly after that, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza at Ashkelon.

Four rockets hit Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council shortly before noon: A mortar shell exploded in one of the council’s kibbutzim, causing one person to suffer shock as well as some property damage. Three other rockets exploded in open areas, causing no harm.

Around 8:30 am, a rocket fired from northern Gaza exploded in an open area in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council, causing no harm.

Rocket-created crater in Be'er Tuvia (Photo: Yaniv Ohana)
Rocket-created crater in Be’er Tuvia (Photo: Yaniv Ohana)

Around 4 am, two rockets were launched at the western Negev, landing in an open area near the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed the rocket fire on Beersheba, while Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s earlier rocker fire.

Paramedics attending to the injured (photo: Shai Vaknin)
Paramedics attending to the injured (photo: Shai Vaknin)
Meanwhile, Israel Air Force helicopters targeted two terror tunnels and a weapons mill in south Gaza Strip and a terror hub in its north in a nightly operation, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said Saturday.

The IDF said the tunnels were meant to smuggle terrorists into Israel, adding that the pilots reported the targets were destroyed.

Palestinian sources reported of another IAF strike in northern Gaza strip at noon Saturday, in the area between Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency quoted medical officials as saying one person was injured in the strike.

The southern district was placed on high police and IDF alert Thursday, following the day’s deadly terror attacks and ensuing rocket fire.

Tova Dadon, Elior Levy and Neri Brener contributed to this report

08.19.2011 – Ashdod: Rocket fired from Gaza leaves 1 seriously injured

LAST UPDATED: 08/19/2011 08:47

5 others hurt from 2 Grad rockets; light damage caused to Yeshiva building; at least 10 other rockets land in South.

Smoke trails after rockets are fired in Gaza

One person was seriously injured and another moderately injured after a Grad rocket fired from Gaza landed in the courtyard of a Yeshiva in Ashdod on Friday morning. Four other people were treated for shock following the attack. All were taken to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. An additional Grad that failed to explode subsequently fell in the area and was neutralized by the bomb squad.Light damage was caused to the building as a result of the rocket fire.The rocket attack came less than a day after a three-stage terror attack near Eilat killed eight people.

Earlier on Friday, at least 10 rockets were fired at various targets in the South including Ashkelon and Beersheba.

All of the rockets landed in open territory and no injuries or damage were reported.

IAF aircraft struck seven Hamas security installations in Gaza early Friday morning, killing at least one Palestinian, in further retaliation for the attacks on Thursday.

Gaza residents said three compounds controlled by Hamas were hit in the overnight raids. Medical officials said a 13-year-old boy in a nearby building was killed and 17 people were wounded.

Defense sources said the attackers infiltrated from Gaza via Egypt’s Sinai desert, despite stepped up efforts by Egyptian security forces in recent days to rein in Palestinian terrorists.

“If anyone thinks the State of Israel will resign itself to this, they are wrong,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a brief television address about the most deadly attack in Israel since 2008.

The IDF said seven gunmen were killed in southern Israel, including two who blew themselves up in suicide attacks on one of the buses and in a confrontation with soldiers.

Egyptian soldiers apparently shot dead two gunmen, the military said.

08.19.2011 – Rocket hits Ashdod yeshiva; 1 seriously wounded

Two people seriously injured after rocket explodes near Ashdod yeshiva. Escalation in south continues as at least 12 rockets fired at area overnight.

Shmulik Hadad

Latest Update: 08.19.11, 10:14 / Israel News

A rocket fired at Ashdod on Friday exploded in the courtyard of a haredi yeshiva and left 10 people injured. Magen David Adom emergency services said two men were seriously injured.

Eight others were lightly injured in the attack. The victims were rushed to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. Minor damage was caused to the building.

The rocket fire, which took place at around 8:10 am, was preceded by a Color Red alert in Ashdod and Gedera.

Emergency services detected an additional Grad rocket which hit a synagogue located several blocks from the yeshiva. The rocket failed to explode, but caused extensive damaged to the building, which had to be demolished.

Eye witnesses said that the victims left the synagogue after hearing the siren, running for cover in an adjacent building. When they heard the first blast they came outside and were then hit by shrapnel caused by the second rocket.

Damage caused to Ashdod yeshiva (Photo: Avi Rokach)
Damage caused to Ashdod yeshiva (Photo: Avi Rokach)

“The fence was utterly destroyed and a deep hole had gaped in the ground,” Moshe Avramovitch, one of the yeshiva students said. “Windows and lamps were shattered in the caravan where the worshippers were praying. The yeshiva students were saying their morning prayers. They ran for their lives and the rocket got them on their way back when they sought to resume their prayer. ”

One of the victims described the scene from his hospital bed: “We heard a siren and ran to an adjacent building. We waited there for several minutes and then stepped out to resume our prayer. Suddenly we heard a loud blast. We couldn’t see anything, people were dropping to the floor. Luckily residents soon came to help us and rescue forces followed minutes later. It was a great miracle.”

Shattered glass at morning prayer (Photo: EPA)
Shattered glass at morning prayer (Photo: EPA)

A total of 12 rockets were fired at southern communities overnight, less than a day after eight Israelis were killed in multiple terror attacks near Eilat.

Meanwhile, the Home Front Command issued guidelines for residents of southern communities, including Ashkelon, Netivot, Ofakim, Beersheba and Ashdod, which ban the gathering of more than 500 people.

Earlier, at around 5:50 am, a siren sounded in Beersheba and shortly thereafter a blast was heard as a rocket hit an open field near the city.

A rocket also exploded south of Gedera. Rockets were also fired at the Eshkol and Shaar Hanegev regional councils. Sirens were sounded in Ashkelon and Ashdod. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Security forces outside yeshiva (Photo: Avi Rokach)
Security forces outside yeshiva (Photo: Avi Rokach)
Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovitch called on residents to adhere to defense establishment instructions. An Iron Dome battery was deployed in the city.
Also Friday morning, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at Gan Yavne and landed in an open field. Thirty minutes later an additional rocket landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries or damage in both cases.

Earlier, a Color Red alarm was sounded three times across southern communities. In two cases, rockets hit open areas in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, and in one case in an open field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council.

A total of four rockets were fired at Ashkelon on Thursday, two of which – aimed at residential areas – were  intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The other two rockets exploded in open areas. Security forces scanned the area; no injuries or damage were reported.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Air Force launched extensive strikes in Gaza Strip. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that IAF jets attacked seven targets in Gaza in response to Thursday’s terror attacks and the rocket fire on southern communities.

According to the statement, two terror hubs and an weapons mill were attacked in the northern Strip, while two smuggling tunnels, a terrorist tunnel and a terror hub were attacked in southern Gaza.

Security forces up alert level in Eilat area (Photo: Reuters)
Security forces up alert level in Eilat area (Photo: Reuters)

The Palestinians reported that fire had broken out in one on the areas targeted, leaving one teen dead and dozens injured.

On Thursday, the IDF bombed a Rafah building where senior members of the Popular Resistance Committees, who were the masterminds behind the Eilat terror attacks, were staying.

Palestinian sources reported that six people were killed in the strike, including Kamal Nirab, commander of the PRC’s military wing and Khaled Shaath, a senior member of the terror group.

It appears Shaath’s son or daughter were among the fatalities. Imad Hamad and Khaled al-Masri, who were both involved in a number of terror attacks against Israel including the abduction of Gulad Shalit were also killed in the attack.

Ilana Curiel, Tova Dadon and Omri Efraim contributed to this report

8.19.2011 – ‘I heard an enormous explosion, and thought of my kids’

LAST UPDATED: 08/19/2011 15:24

Rocket attack damages a synagogue, leaves seven wounded; “I heard an enormous explosion, and thought of my kids.”

Police move grad rocket shell

A mother of two children from Ashdod described how she was caught by surprise by an air-raid siren on Friday morning during the Palestinian rocket attack on the city while assisting her ill father.

Two Grad rockets fired from Gaza slammed into the city on Friday morning, with one rocket falling near a Yeshiva, wounding seven people, including one seriously and one moderately. The second rocket struck a synagogue, but failed to detonate.

The wounded were on their way to morning prayers. The seriously wounded victim was evacuated to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

Edna (who requested that her last name not be published), age 44, was at home with her children and a guest when the first air-raid siren went off shortly before 6 a.m.

“I woke up in a panic and rushed to wake up my kids. My guest burst into tears from the shock,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

 A little under two hours later, Edna walked to her parents’ home, 200 meters away, to tend to her father, who is ill and confined to a wheelchair. As she wheeled her father to a car, the second siren went off.

“We didn’t know where to go.

We were stranded outside and I could not get my father indoors in time. Then we heard an enormous explosion. The rocket fell near my house. The first thing I thought about was my children,” she said. “I called them and they were crying in shock.”

Local officials canceled all sporting and cultural events in Ashdod and Beersheba as a result of the escalation in attacks. Police called on residents of the south to remain close to safe zones – enclosed areas that are less exposed to rockets – and to follow instructions issued by the Home Front Command.

8.19.2011 – Miracle in synagogue: grad fails to explode

Yeshiva students praying at Ashdod shul say prayer had saved their lives after rocket hits structure, fails to explode

Ynet reporters

Published: 08.19.11, 12:21 / Israel News

While 10 people were injured after a Grad rocket hit an Ashdod yeshiva’s courtyard, a much bigger disaster was averted just several blocks away. A rocket which landed near a synagogue where several worshippers prayed failed to explode on Friday.

“No doubt our prayers saved us,” one of the yeshiva students said. The synagogue was eventually demolished as security forces worked to clear the rocket parts. “This was a miracle,” another yeshiva student said.

Worshippers belonging to the Ger Hasidic sect pray at the Ashdod synagogue daily. Akiva Goldman said that after hearing a siren sound, the worshippers initially deliberated whether to stay inside. “We were wearing our prayer shawls and tefilin and people felt uncomfortable running outside and seeking shelter, and that’s why we stayed inside the synagogue.”

Damage caused to Ashdod yeshiva (Photo: EPA)
Damage caused to Ashdod yeshiva (Photo: EPA)

Seconds later Goldman and two of his friends heard a loud blast and watched as the room filled with white dust. “No doubt our prayers saved us,” Goldman said. The three yeshiva students, aged 25-30, plan to say the benediction of deliverance on Saturday.

The grad rocket landed and became stuck in the floor of synagogue, a caravan building. It was decided to demolish parts of it since the rocket could not be cleared otherwise. Torah scrolls and prayer shawls were moved to an adjacent building.

Yossi Tzemach, an MDA medic and ZAKA volunteer said: “We heard a Color Red alert and after the blast realized a rocket had landed nearby. We entered the synagogue where we found three frightened yeshiva students who appeared completely shocked. Luckily no one was hurt, as the synagogue is usually packed with worshippers during the day.”

Prayer services were also halted in the nearby yeshiva where a rocket exploded earlier. Two people were seriously injured and eight sustained light wounds. They were all rushed the the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

Shmulik Hadad, Tomer Velmer and Nir Cohen contributed to this report