JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli teenager was injured when a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near a kindergarten in a western Negev kibbutz.
In addition to the 14-year-old girl, who was on her way to school, an adult living on Kibbutz Zikim near Ashkelon also was hurt by shrapnel from the blast. Four others were treated for shock, according to a statement from the Israeli military.
Ten children were in the kindergarten when the rocket struck about 20 feet away.
The Army of Islam organization in Gaza claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to the deaths of three members of the organization during an Israeli attack last month.
Since the beginning of the week, at least 13 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have landed in southern Israel, with 10 striking Israel on Monday alone.
On Monday night, the Israel Air Force and the Israel Security Agency in a joint operation attacked seven terror-related sites in Gaza, including four Hamas-operated tunnels, a smuggling tunnel, a weapons manufacturing facility and a terror activity center in southern Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Two Palestinian terrorists reportedly were injured in the attacks.
Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that while Hamas is not interested in the border violence escalating to a full-blown conflict, due to internal pressure from militant groups it has allowed them to step up rocket attacks on Israel.
The IDF Southern Command believes the organizations will continue to increase mortar attacks against Israeli soldiers patrolling along the Gaza border, he said.
Since the beginning of 2010, over 200 Grad missiles, Kassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, according to the IDF.