A Grad rocket in Ashkelon.
A Grad rocket in Ashkelon. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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Following many months of calm, Ashkelon residents received a reminder of the frail security situation when a Grad rocket landed near a residential building on Friday. The rocket was followed by two mortars fired at Israeli communities. No damage or injuries were reported.

The fact that the structure was not destroyed nor were there any casualties was nothing less than a "miracle," inhabitants of the apartment building said.

"Something like this only happens once. The next time the assessors will not be the ones coming here - it will be the Magen David Adom rescue workers," said Yossi, a building resident.

Although the rocket caused some damage but no casualties, it was enough to take city residents back two years in time - to a period in which their routine was disrupted on a daily basis.

"The blast takes us back, the children are frightened, the parents are worried and once more we need to live here in fear," Yossi added.

"We heard a siren and ran into the protected room," said Dudi Ben-Chelouche, who lives on the fourth floor of the Ashkelon building, "and only when we came out did we hear the loud blast."

"The entire building shook, the windows broke and the shutters came off the hinges," he continued. "When we went downstairs we saw that two cars had been completely damaged and the windows had broken. It was very frightening. We feared the entire building was going to collapse. We felt the same way we did during Operation Cast Lead."

According to security forces, the fact that no one was injured in the rocket attack is explained by the residents' readiness and the fact that they carried out instructions.

"We heard the siren and immediately ran to the staircase of the building. We heard an enormous blast and were certain that our building was hit, but a few seconds later we realized that the Grad had hit close by," Yossi said.

Nehama Carmi, who was washing her car when she heard the siren said, "I ran to the staircase of the building and waiting. When I came out of the building I heard a huge blast which was like the ones I'd heard during Operation Cast Lead. It was very powerful and frightening."

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said the attack signified an escalation, and called for an immediate decision to reinforce educational institutions and kindergartens in the city.

Unless measures are taken to reinforce schools, parents warned that they will not send their children in.