The head of the IDF’s Home Front Command told municipal chiefs in communities near the Gaza Strip on Tuesday that he’ll recommend that thicker steel plates be placed over the windows of bomb shelters in homes near the coastal enclave.
An Israel Defense Forces statement said that following Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin’s recommendation, the steel plates in communities within seven kilometers (4.3 miles) of the border will be replaced with ones that are at least 32 millimeters (1.2 inches) thick, citing “developing capabilities” among Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
The military said the move was based on a further investigation into a piece of rocket shrapnel that pierced the metal window covering of a bomb shelter in the border town of Sderot, killing 5-year-old Ido Avigal during the recent fighting against Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other terror groups.
Days after Avigal was killed, the IDF had said that the exterior window plating of the fortified room in his family’s apartment was up to its standards.
IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the incident in which Avigal was killed was the result of an “incredibly rare” convergence of events.
“It was a piece of the rocket that came in at a very specific angle, at a very specific speed and at a very specific point,” Zilberman said, but the window plating had been constructed properly.
However, Channel 12 news reported that it appeared the window plating had been built according to the old standard, which demanded the plating be 12 mm (0.47 inches) thick. A new standard introduced two years ago requires plating to be at least 16 mm (0.63 inches) thick. An expert told the network he believed the shrapnel would not have pierced such plating.
Nevertheless, the IDF is now recommending an even thicker cover.
In light of the incident, the military had urged Israelis to ensure that bomb shelter window platings are fully closed and instructed them to try to stay below the level of the window when sirens sound.
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Avigal’s mother had grabbed him and took him to the fortified room when incoming rocket sirens sounded. However, despite barricading themselves in the room, the rocket shrapnel punctured the shelter’s window, critically injuring him and also wounding his mother and seven-year-old sister. He was pronounced dead several hours later.
Avigal was the youngest Israeli killed in the 11-day Gaza fighting that ended on May 20.
The rocket also injured four other people.