Barak Visits Be'er Sheva in Wake of Grad Rocket Attack

The defense minister says he won't allow Be'er Sheva to enter the radius of the Qassam rockets that are continuously fired at Israel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited on Thursday the Be'er Sheva home that was hit by a Grad rocket the previous day and assured the residents that the city would not enter the radius of the Qassam rockets that are continually fired into southern Israel.

Two Grad rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva on Wednesday evening, with one of them hitting a home in a residential area. The rockets marked the first time that Be'er Sheva was hit since the Gaza war in 2009.

Scene of rocket attack Be'er Sheva - Eli Hershkowitz - Feb. 23, 2011
Eli Hershkowitz

Accompanied by the city's mayor, Barak lauded the city's residents for their resilience and strength, which he said gave the government the strength to contend with Hamas in the face of the rocket attack.

After the rocket attack, Israel reiterated that it holds Hamas, which controls the Gaza, as responsible for "any terrorist activity" emanating out of the Strip.

During the visit, one of the residents posed the question to the defense minister if there would be another Operation Cast Lead, referring to the 2009 Gaza offensive which Israel launched in order to halt the continuous rocket attacks coming from the Strip.

Barak responded to the question in an in definitive way, saying "everything has its own time."

During Operation Cast Lead in 2009, several rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva and two people were seriously wounded, including a seven-year-old boy.

The Israel Defense Forces reportedly carried out retaliatory strikes in Gaza on Wednesday night, launching airstrikes against militant targets.

According to an IDF spokesman, the extensive overnight strike was part of the army's aim to "determinately and forcefully against those who attempt to harm Israeli citizens."