Thursday, January 01, 2009

Grads Strike South, Penthouse

Hana Levi Julian Grads Strike South, Penthouse

Gaza terrorists escalated missile attacks on southern Israel Thursday beginning at 12 noon with a Grad 122-mm Katyusha strike in Ashdod. In rapid succession, they followed with attacks on the coastal city of Ashkelon and a second strike on Be'er Sheva, "the capital of the south." One missile struck as far as 48 kilometers from Gaza, the furthest range thus far, exploding in the Be'er Sheva region.A long-range missile struck a penthouse on the eighth floor of an apartment building in Ashdod on Thursday just after noontime. Firefighters rushed to the scene to battle the blaze ignited in two apartments by the Grad 122-mm Katyusha rocket. The building was severely damaged, said officials.

Magen David Adom medics treated a number of people for severe emotional trauma, but no one suffered any physical injuries. There were people in the apartments at the time of the rocket impact, and the neighbors say that it is a miracle that no one was injured.

A second Grad missile also landed elsewhere in the city. Four short-range Kassam rockets also exploded elsewhere in the western Negev, one in the Sdot Negev region and three in the Eshkol region.

Two Grad missiles also struck the coastal city of Ashkelon at about 1:00 p.m, and one slammed into the city of Be'er Sheva, which had been hit by a Grad in the first attack of the day, at 7:00 a.m.

Magen David Adom medics deployed to all the affected locations.

Radio announcers have continued to reiterate to their listeners throughout the day, "If you don't have any reason to be outdoors, stay inside."

"Radio Darom broadcasts the siren," explained the announcer, "but we have control over the siren. That comes from Home Front Command," he said, "which is from the army. We are only the platform. If you do not hear it that is not something we have any control over."

The announcer added that even if they do not hear a siren, if listeners believe they have heard an explosion, they should run for cover.

The point was made because in the city of Be'er Sheva, there were a number of cases in which the siren failed to activate, thus endangering the population. Home Front Command added a special additional "Tzeva Adom" Color Red incoming rocket alert siren on a "silent radio station" that sounds only when necessary in the affected areas.

The two frequencies that carry the silent alarm in the Be'er Sheva area are: 97 FM and 102.3 FM.

'What's Open? What's Closed?'

Residents in Be'er Sheva, unused to being cooped up for long periods of time, are sending emails back and forth to each other on their internet list serve, asking "What's open? What's closed?"

One frustrated local journalist, Yocheved Russo, noted, "None of the Home Front Command English-language sites that anyone has cited are working. The AACI link doesn't offer any language option beyond Hebrew, and others just have a notice – in Hebrew – that appears to say it's not operational at this time.

"I'm wondering what's open, and how advisable it is to try and get out for supplies," she said.

At least one supermarket has offered to provide free delivery to local residents in Be'er Sheva for purchases over NIS 100. .

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