SOUTHERN ISRAEL UNDER MASSIVE ROCKET FIRE [UPDATED 11:30PM IL]December 29, 2008
10:15PM IL: [UPDATES BELOW] Beginning about 45 minutes ago, numerous cities and municipalities in southern Israel were attacked by Katyusha rockets, Kassam rockets and mortar rockets. As this is being written, rockets continue to strike in southern Israel and the IDF Homefront Command has just ordered all residents within a 30km (18 miles) radius of Gaza to enter shelters.
The first Katyushas struck almost at the same time, hitting Ashdod and Ashkelon. In Ashdod, the rocket landed near a bus stop leaving two people injured, listed in critical/serious condition R”L. They are being transported to Kaplan Hospital in Rechovot. There is no hospital in Ashdod.
In Ashkelon, one rocket landed in a southern area of the city, knocking out electricity. Baruch Hashem, there are no injuries. Another struck a school building and extensive damage is reported. Once again, Baruch Hashem, no injuries.
The next wave of rockets struck a moshav in near the Gaza border. A home sustained a direct hit. Bichasdei Hashem, no physical injuries were reported.
A barrage of mortar rockets fell in the Nachal Oz region, injuring seven people, 2 seriously, 1 moderate and the remainder light. A chopper is evacuating them to the trauma unit of Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva.
As we go to print, rockets are heading to Netivot and we await news from that city.
At this time, we are compelled to announce there is a fatality but due to the simultaneous attacks, it cannot be determined with absolute certainty from which attack, Ashdod or Nachal Oz.
YWN will continue to update you with real-time information. Sirens are now sounding in Sderot as well.
In addition, Baruch Hashem it is finally raining but the rainfall in the southern areas is hard, hampering rescue efforts and compelling response teams to drive slower.
UPDATE 10:27PM IL: It is now being confirmed that there is a fatality in the Nachal Oz attack. Another wave of rockets has landed in Ashkelon. No injuries are reported.
Widespread violence is reported in Yehuda, Shomron, Israeli Arab area, including protests, attempts to block roads, rolling burning tires, and firebomb attacks. No injuries are being reported. Security forces in Yosh are operating on heightened alert status due to the situation.
The situation in Ashdod is one of panic as the first Katyusha rocket landed in the city earlier Monday night. A large pool of blood is visible where the victims were waiting for a bus a short time ago. They are now fighting for their lives. Officials are moving about in the impact area, seeking to instruct residents to remain calm.
MDA has some 200 ambulances deployed in the south of the country as well as a medivac chopper standing by. Hospital personnel are also working emergency shifts.
Earlier in the day, the emergency room of Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon moved underground into a basement in an effort to better protect the staff and patients who are in direct line of Kassam fire.
Tanks, armored vehicles and a large force of infantry soldiers can be seen along the Gaza border, waiting the order to move into Gaza and begin phase two of Operation Cast Lead, an infantry incursion towards eliminating the threat of rocket fire into Israeli communities.
UPDATE 10:45PM IL: The Katyusha rocket that hit Ashdod has truly led to panic. The city’s security officers are working to maintain calm in the area of the impact, which by the way is a major intersection in the heart of the city, near the police station and just a very short distance from a gas station to the right. Police stated that it was most fortunate that the rocket did not strike the gas station.
As a result of the impact, there are power outages, resulting in increased panic. All simchas (smachot) that were taking place in the city has been halted and the city is rapidly moving to emergency mode, joining acheinu bnei yisrael in other cities south of Ashdod under attack, numbering over 500,000 citizens.
City officials are heading for an urgent meeting with security officials to assess the situation.
AS WE GO TO PRINT: A woman who was critically wounded in the Ashdod attack has unfortunately died of her massive injuries.
UPDATE10:54PM IL: Ashdod Mayor Dr. Yehuda Lasri reports that tomorrow, Tuesday, schools will open as planned and children will return to their desks following Chanukah vacation.
In an update from Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, one of the victims is being treated in the trauma unit, described in critical condition with shrapnel injuries to his chest, head and extremities. Four other victims are being treated in the surgical emergency room, all listed in light condition.
UPDATE 11:04PM IL: Sirens were heard in Ashdod a few minutes ago. There are no reports of an impact. There are also reports of rockets landing in the Netivot and Yavne areas, near Route 4. Baruch Hashem, no reports of injuries at this time.
UPDATE 11:20PM IL: A rocket has landed in Ofakim, 30km (18 miles) from Gaza. There is a preliminary report of a direct hit on one home. At least three rockets landed in Ofakim and another attack is reported near Gan Yavne, which is over 40km (24 miles) from Gaza.
UPDATE 11:30PM IL: At least two rockets landed in Ofakim, with one smashing into a home. One person is being treated at the scene, reportedly with a light-to-moderate head injury. Others are being treated for hysteria. Israel Radio reports sirens are sounding once again in Ashdod.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)