Palestinian Missile Targets Ashkelon

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ASHKELON, Israel - Residents of the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon ran for shelter Friday morning as the Color Red air raid siren warned of an incoming attack.

A Grad missile fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip slammed into a residential apartment building. Two people were treated for shock.

The missile, which hit about 8:30 a.m., damaged two empty floors of the apartment building, several cars and the pavement below.

"We heard the siren and ran into the fortified room," resident Dudi Ben Shlush, who lives on the fourth floor, told reporters.

"We heard the loud explosion only after we can out. The entire building trembled, windows were shattered and the shutters damaged," he said.

"When we went downstairs, we saw that our two cars were completely damaged and their windows were shattered. It was very scary. We thought the entire building was going to collapse," Shlush said.

Another resident, Nechama Carmi, echoed his sentiments.

"I ran into the stairwell and waited there," she said. "When I came out, I heard the loudest explosion I've heard since Operation Cast Lead. It was very strong and terrifying," she said.

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin called the missile attack "a very serious incident, the worst since Operation Cast Lead."

"There is no doubt that such a hit inside the city is an escalation," he said.

Operation Cast Lead was Israel's military response to incessant Palestinian rocket, mortar and missile fire on southern Israeli communities. 

Rocket attacks have gone on since 2001, killing, injuring and traumatizing Israeli men, women and children and damaging property.  

Israel's three-week military incursion into the Gaza Strip, which began in December 2008 and ended in January 2009, substantially reduced the numbers of attacks.

Following the operation, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) adopted a policy of responding to every attack by targeting the arms smuggling tunnels or some facet of the terror infrastructure, such as arms manufacturing plans, explosives labs or weapons warehouses.

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