Archives for October 2011

10.30.2011 – ‘Neighbor’s car saved me’

Across southern towns that were devastated by rocket attacks, resident claim it was a miracle they weren’t hurt

Shmulik Hadad

Published: 10.30.11, 14:34 / Israel News

The state-mandated precautions have minimized the casualties and damage that could have been caused in the recent onslaught of rockets on the south, but several residents claimed that it were the unlikely coincidences that saved them.

In Ashdod, cars were destroyed, apartment windows were shattered and holes in an apartment building’s exterior bore testimony to the Grad rocket that hit on Saturday. New brickwork has already replaced the crater carved by an explosion in a residential parking lot, but the neighbors cannot stop talking about the miracle that caused the rocket to land directly between two apartment buildings.

“My family and I … ran to the protected zone when the alarm went off,” Eran Peretz, a resident of one of the buildings, told Ynet. “The force of the explosion made us think that the rocket hit our home, but then we saw that it was outside, although the building was covered in smoke.”

Eleven rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday night. The barrage prompted IDF retaliation, which killed nine Palestinian operatives. The south was quiet on Sunday morning, and a

“Your best chance for not getting hit during such an incident is to keep a low profile,” he told them. “The citizens who are outside must lie on the ground, and in any case it is preferable to be in a protected area.”

Trying to stay optimistic

Haim Elimelech, 50, credited his neighbor’s car as his savior. The Gan Yavne resident told Ynet from his hospital bed in Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center that he sat down in his car on his way to look for his son when the rocket hit mere meters from him.

Rocket damage in Gan Yavne (Photo: Amir Levy)
Rocket damage in Gan Yavne (Photo: Amir Levy)

“The neighbor’s car, which was located between me and the explosion, got the worst of the damage,” he said. “Maybe if it wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking right now.”

Two mortar shells, which initially were reported to have exploded in open areas, later turned out to have hit a kibbutz at Sha’ar Hanegev Regional council. One exploded near a basketball court and damaged the surroundings, while the second exploded on the other side of town, near residential buildings. No one was injured.

“At 5:45 am the Color Red alert went off and we ran to the protected space,” Varda Goldstein, a resident of the kibbutz, told Ynet. “We heard the explosion, and then I realized that it hit very close. When we left the protected space, I saw smoke a few dozen meters from the home. Luckily, no one was injured.”

The tension has been a feature in her family’s life for the past decade, Goldstein said.

 

“We try to function normally under abnormal circumstances, try to maintain a routine, go to kindergarten, school and work,” she said. “I can’t say whether I’m optimistic or not about the rocket fire. It has been almost 10 years. “I’m trying to stay optimistic,” she added.

10.29.2011 – Rockets fired at south; one injured

South under fire again in wake of IAF attack in Gaza: Alarm sounds in various southern communities. Man hit by shrapnel in Gan Yavne; rocket hits school courtyard in Ashdod. Second barrage targets residential building, one injured. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility

Ynet reporters

Latest Update: 10.29.11, 19:26 / Israel News
Renewed escalation: Hours after the IDF killed a terrorist cell which was behind the Grad rocket attack on south Israel earlier this week, three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at southern communities on Saturday. A couple of hours later there was a second rocket barrage. The MDA declared a mass-casualty event.
A man in his 50s was hit by shrapnel sustaining light wounds. He was hit while out searching for his son and was taken to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. One of the rockets landed in a school courtyard in Ashdod causing no injuries. Another landed in an open area near Be’er Tuvia. Later, two mortar shells were fired at the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries were reported. Another rocket fired towards the Negev exploded in an open field near Bnei Shimon Regional Council.
Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing claimed responsibility for the attack. The group stressed this was just the first response to the IDF strike.
An alarm sounded in various communities from Ashdod to Gedera as residents reported hearing explosions.

דם על הרצפה בבית הפצוע בגן יבנה (צילום: אבי רוקח)
Blood on the floor of Gan Yavne rocket victim (Photo: Avi Rokach)

A couple of hours later, an additional barrage from Gaza was noted. One rocket hit an 5-story residential building in Ashdod. One person was lightly injured and several suffered anxiety attacks. Damage was caused to the building and several vehicles caught fire.  Shortly thereafter a rocket hit a house in Ashkelon. There were no injuries.

The rocket exploded some two meters from the building itself with shrapnel hitting the structure. Vehicles parked outside the building suffered the greatest damage. MDA forces and firefighters are working at the scene. Sappers removed the rocket parts.

השריפה בחניית הבניין (צילום: שי בן ישי)
Fire in Ashdod (Photo: Shai Ben-Yishai)

A total of three rockets were fired prompting alarms in Ofakim and Netivot.

Meanwhile, two mortar shells landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council and a rocket exploded in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.

Milan, who resides in Ashdod was at work when the alarm sounded. “My wife called hysterical and told me there was an alarm, she is with a small child at home. I’m scared and can’t leave for work when my wife is with the little girl. This needs to be resolved once and for all.”

מקום הנפילה באשדוד, הערב (צילום: אבי רוקח)
Rocket landing site in Ashdod (Photo: Avi Rokach)

Minutes before the rocket launch, the Home Front Command instructed residents of the Gaza vicinity areas to remain near fortified areas following in the wake of the IAF attack in Gaza.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz held a status evaluation with various IDF senior officials and is slated to convene the General Staff’s operations forum to discuss implications and a possible reaction. The IDF stressed that the attack on the Islamic Jihad cell was carried out in order to prevent further rocket fire at Israel and not as a direct response to the attack the cell mounted on the Ashdod area earlier this week.

רסיסים בבית הספר שנפגע (צילום: זאב טרטכטמן)
Shrapnel hit school in Ashdod (Photo: Zeev Trachtman)

The Home Front Command reissued emergency guidelines and canceled gatherings and conferences of over 500 people in Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gan Yavne and Yavne.

Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri said Saturday that the municipality is discussing whether to open schools on Sunday together with security officials. “We won’t allow studies where there is no fortification,” he said.

נזק רב נגרם גם למכוניות בגן-יבנה (צילום: אבי רוקח)
Cars sustain damage in Gan Yavne (Photo: Avi Rokach)

Palestinian sources reported Saturday that at least five terrorists were killed and 11 others were wounded after the Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad cell in the Gaza Strip Saturday.

Military officials said the killed terrorists were members of a cell that fired a Grad rocket at Israel earlier this week. The IDF and Shin Bet joined forces in the strike, which saw an Air Force aircraft firing at the terror cells, the army’s spokesman said.

One of the terrorists killed is Ahmed Sheikh Khalil, a senior commander in the al-Quds Brigades. Nicknamed ‘Abu Hader,’ Khalil was a member of the Islamic Jihad’s engineering and production unit. In a text message to reporters, the group said it would take revenge for the attack.

“The strike was the biggest against the Jihad movement since a lull was declared between Israel and Gaza factions,” a spokesman on behalf of the group said. “Israel wants to provoke the resistance and this will not go unanswered. Israel will pay a dear price for its crimes.”

Tova Dadon, Yoav Zitun, Ilana Curiel, Daniel Rosenbaum and Mor Avragami  contributed to this report.

10.17.2011 – Letters, drawings for Gilad help him, hospital children’

By JUDY SIEGEL
LAST UPDATED: 10/17/2011 05:44

Writing letters to Gilad connects children to their surroundings, improves their mood, says Kaplan psychologist.

child's hand
PHOTO: ISRAL WEISS

Although it’s unlikely that Gilad Schalit will have time to read them, letters written by hospitalized children and doctors at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot are thought by psychologists to help in their recovery.

“Writing letters to Gilad connects them with their normal surroundings outside, improves their mood and supplies interest and a target,” said Dr. Pini Cassuto, a Kaplan psychologist who was head of a unit for locating MIAs after the young soldier was kidnapped.

Cassuto said Sunday that the letters from the children and medical staffers will be transferred to the Tel Nof Air Force base where Schalit will be reunited with his loved ones.

Cassuto, who was involved in investigating the kidnapping minutes after it occurred, said that the letters are a form of emotional release for the young patients.

 They are also drawing pictures for Schalit, Cassuto added.

“If Gilad looks at them, they could give him emotional support and help him cope during the first days after his long incarceration in Gaza,” the psychologist said.

On Sunday, nurses passed through the pediatric department with paper for writing letters to Gilad and depositing them in specially printed boxes. All of the letters are very emotional and full of excitement, Cassuto said.

Sima Revivo, mother of a 10-year-old Ashdod boy named Noam who had his infected appendix removed, said that her son remembered in the recovery room after his surgery when the doctor who told him Schalit is being released.

“There is no doubt that writing letters to him eased the hospitalized children’s feelings. They are talking about him a lot. She is the child of all of us,” Sima said.

Kaplan Director-General Prof. Ya’acov Yahav said that in the past, the hospital initiated an assembly on the campus grounds in support for Schalit’s release.