Thursday, May 15, 2008

Iran injures 100 Israelis in Askelon, IDF braces for more

from DEBKAfile, May 14, 2008, 11:17 PM (GMT+02:00):

Up to 100 injured by Iran-made rocket which wrecks crowded Ashkelon shopping mall

Jihad Islami and Popular Committees claimed the attack with Hamas' blessing. After examining the rocket shrapnel, police commander Uri Barlev confirmed it was a Grad (Katyhusha) military rocket made in Iran.

Of the 100 people injured in Ashkelon’s bustling mall, four people were seriously hurt including a mother and her four-month old baby. Two women suffered moderate injuries and the others of whom many were children were slightly hurt. Four were dug out of the debris.

The Palestinian rocket crashed without warning into the roof of the three-floor building, fired from the former Israel Dugit site in N. Gaza just when President Bush was winding up a conversation with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. The attack revived fresh demands for a major operation to put a stop to the daily attacks from the Gaza Strip. ...

...Furious complaints were heard in the streets of Ashkelon over the failure of the siren to sound an alert in time for people to take shelter from the rocket attack. Homeland Command officers explained the decision not to activate the siren by the many recent false alarms that kept the population on edge and the wish not to disturb the Bush visit.

Security minister Avi Dichter, trade and industry minister Eli Yishai decide to skip the gala banquet in the US president’s honor and travel to Ashkelon instead. Casualties have mounted recently from the daily Palestinian attacks on Israeli communities outside Gaza. Two people were killed in the last week.

from DEBKAfile May 14, 2008, 11:17 PM (GMT+02:00):

... Israeli army braces for more Palestinian attacks after Ashkelon

Israeli units around Gaza, including the air force, are on the highest alert, DEBKAfile’s military sources report, for Palestinian terror groups to follow up their rocket attack on the Ashkelon shopping mall, which injured 100 civilians, with more aggressive actions. Aside from rocket fire, according to our sources, Hamas is planning to stage mass marches Thursday, May 15, to batter the Gaza-Israel border crossings and fence.

To pre-empt this assault, the Israeli air force plan to drop bombs overnight on Hamas and Jihad Islami installations across the Gaza Strip. The rocket which crashed through the roof of the Ashkelon mall Wednesday is believed by our sources to have carried a message from Tehran to visiting US president George W, Bush that Iran’s arm was long enough to reach an American presence anywhere.

Our military sources also disclose that the Grad rocket was in fact fired by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command headed by Ahmed Jibril. A team of this terrorist group reached the Gaza Strip in the last few days via Sinai after attending a special course in the precise targeting of rockets at an installation near Tehran. The team arrived already armed with the Grad manufactured in Iran which hit the Ashkelon mall.

The Ashkelon rocket also carried a warning to prime minister Ehud Olmert that the truce plan Egypt presented to Israel was a take-it-or-leave it ultimatum and not open to negotiation.

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