Residents of southern Israel suffered another day under siege on Sunday as Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired about 50 more rockets at the Negev.
Two Grad-type Katyusha rockets fell in Be'er Sheva after the Iron Dome battery that had been protecting it suffered a technical malfunction.
One rocket hit a school, which was empty since schools in the city were closed Sunday, and the other hit a parked car. Fifteen people were treated for shock, though there were no other casualties. The rockets ¬ and the ball bearings that they ejected hundreds of meters ¬ caused heavy damage to buildings and vehicles. Another rocket hit a chicken coop in Moshav Carmia in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, causing heavy damage.
In Gaza, medics reported that Israeli air strikes killed three Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy. A total of 18 Palestinians were killed in IAF strikes since Friday.
Escalation in the south
Since Friday, 104 rockets were fired toward Israel, 43 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense systems. The IAF carried out 23 strikes in the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that "the current escalation is liable to be lengthy." He said that he plans to have the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system declared a "national emergency project," so as to expedite the manufacture and deployment of additional batteries. A fourth Iron Dome battery is being prepared for deployment and is expected to be operational within weeks.
Some 200,000 pupils will remain at home again on Monday, as schools remain closed in Be'er Sheva, Ofakim, Ashdod, Yavneh, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malakhi and Netivot, and in all the other smaller communities that are between seven and 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
Earlier on Sunday, security officials said the Iron Dome systems performed extraordinarily over the weekend. The systems use a missile called "Tamir" to intercept incoming rockets, and each missile is priced at approximately NIS 200,000.
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