Sunday, June 11

Sderot: schools closed after Kassam strikes school yard, injures Israeli

Sderot's beleagured Mayor Eli Moyal acceded to fearful parents demands, after Sunday morning's Kassam volley that wounded several Israelis, and told administrators to keep the schoolhouse doors shut.

Moyal, according to Ynet, said the move was not in protest of the IDF inability to thwart the near-daily rocket barrage:

"Four rockets landed in the Sderot area, one rocket falling inside an elementary school and another landing nearby. As a result, the building suffered damage. One man was lightly injured and was evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Two other people were treated for shock on the scene of the attack."

And this, just in from the
IDF Spokesman's office:

"The Chief of Staff has instructed Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, deputy commander of the IDF ground forces branch, to head a special inquiry committee into yesterday's incident in which seven innocent Palestinian civilians were killed on the beach in the Gaza Strip.

"Initial investigation indicated that Israeli naval fire did not cause this incident. The possibility of land-based artillery fire is being examined.

"The IDF deeply regrets any harm caused to innocent civilians and has offered any medical assistance needed including hospitalization in Israel.

"The following is a summary of a briefing given on Friday, June 9, by the GOC Southern Command, Maj. General Yoav Gallant:

"I cannot say what caused this incident. We are looking into the different possibilities. Both naval and ground based means were used today. We have fired thousands of shells in the past and this has never happened before. We are investigating, but it seems that it was not caused by either air or naval fire. There may have been an accident which caused an artillery shell to fall off course, or an old unexploded shell which went off, or perhaps an explosive device which was tinkered with. We fired towards open areas and took the necessary distance precautions. We fired towards the ruins of Dugit and westward of them - an area which is routinely used for rocket launching. The Palestinian population was warned to keep clear of this area. If as a result of our activity innocent Palestinians were hurt, I am very sorry for it. We do not intend to harm civilians, and we have offered any assistance that we can.

"There was no firing towards a school.

"We have halted our artillery fire in order to check ourselves. As for aerial attacks, they will continue against anyone aiming to attack us.

"Rockets continued to be launched at Israel, and despite this regrettable event we will continue to do all that it takes to defend the citizens of Israel. The IDF today attacked two terror cells - one immediately after a rocket launching, the second as it was on its way for such a launching. The second was a Hamas terror cell which in the past days has launched a number of Qassam rocket that hit Sderot. Our activity is aimed to protect the citizens of Israel from harm. This activity will continue.

"If terror organizations continue to fire at our civilian population, we will have to respond severely. We are under attack, and will use any means necessary while taking the utmost precautions. Sadly, accidents do happen. We are investigating the grave incident on the Gaza beach, and if it was in fact caused by a mishap, we will take appropriate action. We expect to know more in the coming 24 hours."

This is the pallid update the IDF Spokesman's Office emailed and faxed reporters early Sunday morning, when, it seems to me, having worked extensively with the IDF spoks, they should be a heck of a lot more proactive, already be on-camera, radio and internet, getting ahead of the day's news cycle, and not dribbling out their response. Hope springs eternal...

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