Ashkelon’s mayor Benny Vaknin said on Sunday that the type of missiles fired on Saturday caused much greater destruction than past rockets. “These types of rockets are much more accurate and capable of great devastation, damaging concrete building and roads. Within six months, we have experienced three rounds of destructive rocket attacks, in late April, August and now, October. We need to rethink how to address this situation.”
Vaknin refused to allow Ashkelon students to attend schools on Tuesday, for the third day in a row. On Sunday, over 200,000 students in Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Sderot and other communities closed down schools because of continued rocket threats. On Tuesday, Vaknin said he is not taking any chances “endangering children’s lives.”
Most of Ashkelon’s schools are not protected against rocket attacks. The city has close to 30,000 students in its education system including 6,000 college students at Ashkelon’s Academic College.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for most of the rocket attacks during the weekend. According to an analysis by Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Tomeh, the Islamic Jihad organization has become a major player in Gaza thanks to the financial and military help of Iran and Syria. Hamas has taken second seat during the current fighting, allowing Egypt instead to mediate a cease-fire between Islamic Jihad and Israel. “Some Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said on Sunday that Hamas is probably afraid of violent confrontation with Islamic Jihad, whose members have managed to smuggle into the Gaza Strip new weapons stolen from Libya.”
Islamic Jihad’s leader in Syria, Ramadan Abdullah recently attended Iran’s Fifth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada earlier in October, where he stated that jihad and resistance are the only “options” for the Palestinians. Islamic Jihad has called for the destruction of Israel on numerous occasions.
Israel Defense Forces were able to identify and strike an Islamic Jihad rocket cell in Gaza earlier on Saturday, killing five terrorists, including a senior commander responsible for rocket production facilities. Israel’s Channel 10 reported late Saturday night that Islamic Jihad’s Quds Brigades said the first wave of rockets was its “initial response” to the strike on its rocket cell, and that “the enemy should expect the worst in the coming hours.”
Meanwhile, Liz Sheetrit hopes that life will return to normal for her family and neighbors. “We are trying to get back to a routine, but no one can guarantee that rockets won’t strike here once again.”
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