Mortar Shell Misses Kindergartens

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SHA'AR HANEGEV REGIONAL COUNCIL - A half an hour before children were scheduled to arrive for their morning kindergarten sessions, a mortar shell launched by Palestinians in Gaza exploded between two school buildings, damaging one of them.

"We heard a loud explosion. I awoke in panic," one kibbutz member said.

"The shell exploded 100 meters [yards] from my house. The blast was so powerful it set off the car alarms. It was very frightening," he said.

"The shell landed between the buildings. It could have ended very differently," he said.

One of the kindergarten classrooms has a reinforced roof, but its walls are not fortified against rockets and mortar shells.

Following the attack, parents took their children to their classes.

"There is no choice but to continue with our routine," one mother said. "It is a holiday today. You can see people's faces are not as happy, but the kindergartens are fortified and everyone brought their children," she said.

Residents had no prior warning of the incoming shell.

"It was the explosion that told us there had been an attack," she said.

"The Color Red alert system does not warn residents of incoming mortars as it does when Kassams are fired. That's the scary part. Kassams and mortars fall here on an almost daily basis," she said.

One kibbutz member said today's close call shows why buildings that house classrooms should be fully fortified.

"The place where the mortar landed proves that all the structures, including their walls, urgently need to be reinforced," he said.

While parents prepared festive holiday meals to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with family and friends this evening, teachers were instructed to keep children indoors until they were picked up. There would be no time on the playground today. 

On Tuesday, Palestinians fired a Kassam at the city of Sderot, but no was injured and no property damage occurred.

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