Dozens of worshipers in a community near the city of Ofakim narrowly escaped injury yesterday when a Grad rocket hit a study hall adjacent to the synagogue where they were praying.

"We were in the middle of the shacharit morning prayer service and the rabbi just said the word vishmarech ["you shall be guarded" in Hebrew) when we heard a loud bang," recounted Nissim Almog, one of the worshipers who witnessed the attack. "The Grad hit the study hall next to the synagogue - it was a miracle. Even the windows shattered outward and my mother who was in the women's section was not hurt."

The Grad was one of 15 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel by Palestinian militants yesterday, as the Israel Defense Forces' operation in the coastal territory entered its 21st day. No one was wounded in the attacks but damage was caused to property.

Two of the longer-ranged Grads fell in open fields in the Be'er Sheva area, while others targeted parts of the Western Negev.

On Friday at least 23 rockets were fired at Israel. Three people in the Kiryat Gat area were lightly wounded when a Qassam landed near their vehicle.

The Home Front Command yesterday announced that schools in Sderot would remain shut until further notice.

The number of rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza at Israel has decreased from about 50 in the first days of the operation to around 20 yesterday, although the IDF has been unable to stop them entirely.