Gaza Op Halves Rocket Fire

Ad Feedback - SDEROT, Israel - Since the start of Operation Cast Lead 17 days ago, Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israeli towns has been reduced by nearly half.

At the beginning of the operation on December 27, anywhere from 40 to 80 rockets and mortar shells were fired daily. Today, it's averaging 20 to 30 a day.

Palestinian terrorists launch most of the rockets from northern Gaza, often from land where Israeli communities existed prior to the government's "disengagement" in August 2005.

Today, the IDF's (Israel Defense Forces) ground incursion has forced rocket launch cells to move further away, diminishing their accuracy.

Nonetheless, the rocket attacks continue.

Late Monday morning, a Grad missile scored a direct hit on an apartment building in Ashkelon, not far from a high school where students had just returned after a two-week stay at home on orders of the Home Front Command.

"I stopped the car immediately in front of the house when I heard the siren. I took my daughter out and entered the house next to the house that was hit," an eyewitness named Lee said.

"We hid in the staircase because there's no bomb shelter there. Then we heard a very powerful blast, and I realized that the rocket exploded right next to us," she said.

"Only when I went outside, I saw that my car was hit. It was shattered to pieces, and the house was seriously damaged," she said.

"It was really just a matter of seconds from when I took the child out and managed to find shelter. I shiver at the thought of us being exposed to a rocket like that," she said.

On Sunday, Palestinians fired 22 rockets, one landing near a school playground in Ashdod, with no injuries or significant property damage reported.

Meanwhile, more than half of Beersheba's 11th and 12th grade high school students were slated to return to school, where their classes would be held in bomb shelters.

Schools had been closed for 10 days because of Grad missile attacks.

A half hour before the doors were set to open, as 2,700 high school students made their way to school, the Color Red siren sounded, followed seconds later by a loud explosion.

Two Grad rockets landed in the city, one in an open area in the city center.

"There was one big boom," a mother, named Ronit, reported. "There's no electricity on the street now. The shutters moved after the pole fell on a car. There's a great commotion here -- police, ambulances and firefighters," she said.

"The children here were nearly killed. My daughter is shaking. She has been clinging to me for two weeks. She was supposed to go to school today, but I didn't send her and I won't send her until the commotion ends," she said.

The coastal city of Ashkelon was also hit Sunday afternoon. Four people were injured by shrapnel, one moderately and three lightly.

Twenty-seven residents were treated for shock.

On Saturday, 14 Israelis were wounded in some 21 rocket and mortar shell attacks.

Sources: Haaretz, YNet news

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