After rocket, Ashdod schools without shelters shuttered for Wednesday
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After rocket, Ashdod schools without shelters shuttered for Wednesday

Decision affects 14 schools and 56 day care centers, following launch of longer-range Grad rocket toward coastal city for first time since summer war

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Israeli children run to a bomb shelter during an incoming missile alarm in Sderot,  January 8, 2009. (photo credit: Anna Kaplan/ Flash90)
Israeli children run to a bomb shelter during an incoming missile alarm in Sderot, January 8, 2009. (photo credit: Anna Kaplan/ Flash90)

Schools in Ashdod that do not have fortified rooms for students will be closed on Wednesday, the city announced on Tuesday night, hours after a rocket from the Gaza Strip fell in the region for the first time since an August cease-fire.

According to Channel 2, 14 schools and 56 daycare centers in Ashdod do not have shelters.

The remaining schools will hold classes as usual, the municipality said.

The move came after Gaza terrorists fired at least one rocket at Israel Tuesday night, one of which landed near Gan Yavneh, outside Ashdod.

Though there has been sporadic rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip since the end of the summer war with the Palestinian enclave, the attack marked the first time a Grad rocket — which can reach Ashdod — was used.

The municipality will also weigh whether to permit a local open-air market to open, according to the Ynet news website.

Local officials in Gan Yavne decided to open shelters to the public on Tuesday night, but did not receive an official directive from the Home Front Command to do so.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the rocket, which landed near Gan Yavneh according to an IDF statement.

It was unclear how many rockets were shot at Israel from Gaza. According to the IDF, initial signs pointed to one, though other reports put the number as high as five.

Many residents of southern Israel reported hearing multiple blasts.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Hamas or other terror groups in the coastal enclave.

However, an Israeli official said Jerusalem holds Hamas responsible for all attacks launched from the enclave, and the group was reportedly evacuating buildings and bases Tuesday night ahead of an expected Israeli retaliation.

A source in Gaza said the firing was the result of an internal dispute inside the Islamic Jihad terror group.

The source said Islamic Jihad recently appointed a new commander to oversee the northern region of the coastal enclave.

The new commander was supposed to start his new position today officially, but his predecessor opposed it, sparking clashes between the two commanders’ supporters.

The new commander’s men then kidnapped two operatives working under the former commander and, in retaliation, the predecessor’s followers decided to fire rockets at Israel.

Hamas security forces are now searching the area from which the rockets were launched and have detained several suspects, according to the source.

Israel is wary of Gaza terrorist groups rearming after Operation Protective Edge. The IDF says Hamas has been conducting test launches in recent months, in order to increase its rocket-launching capabilities.

Itamar Sharon and Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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