10 Qassams Hit W. Negev; Rocket Strike Sparks Fire in Wheat Field

Sderot resident lightly wounded; School turnout low as classes resume; Sderot film festival moved to Netivot.

Ten Qassam rockets struck the western Negev on Monday, nine of them hitting Sderot, one landing as Defense Minister Amir Peretz turned out in his hometown to vote in the Labor Party primaries.

Several of the rockets fell in open areas, one sparked a fire when it hit a wheat field, and another struck the Sderot cemetery. One Sderot resident was very lightly wounded, and there was limited damage.

The Southern Film Festival, which was scheduled to open in Sderot, was moved to Netivot due to the threat of rockets.

Meanwhile, few students arrived at school in Sderot Monday, which reopened for first to ninth graders, after two weeks of disruptions due to the Qassams.

At one elementary school, just 20 of the 150 pupils turned up, and in another only 20 out of 300 arrived for school.

The Education Ministry on Sunday rejected the request of Mayor Eli Moyal to end the school year in the town immediately.

Directors of the southern district at the Education Ministry discussed the matter on Sunday and decided that the damages incurred by ending the school year now would exceed the benefits.

"Pedagogically speaking, it is neither appropriate nor correct to end the school year in Sderot now. There has never been a case where the school year ended a month early," Education Minister Yuli Tamir said.

"There will be no benefit if the pupils sit in an unprotected home, bored and frightened. The teachers continue to give assignments to the pupils, and there are marathon sessions in locations outside the town in preparation for the matriculation exams," she said.

"The public school system has not stopped functioning because of the crisis. We are under no illusions that if Qassams fall near the pupils they will continue their routine without interruption, but we are trying to offer the best possible solutions."

The minister pointed out that the rise in the number of pupils who pass their matriculation exams in Sderot proves that the educational efforts are meeting their targets.

The Education Ministry has also promised to offer activities during the summer holiday in Sderot, Tamir said.

Sderot pupils still in town Sunday were bussed to nearby communities for several hours in order to spend time in places not threatened by Qassam rockets.