Bedouin ‘defenseless’ as man killed, 4 injured by Gaza rocket

Ouda Lafi al-Waj, 32, dies after direct hit, 3-month-old girl seriously injured, as relatives say the gov’t gives them no protection

A February 2013 shot of an unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev (photo credit: Nati Shohat/ Flash 90)
A February 2013 shot of an unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev (photo credit: Nati Shohat/ Flash 90)

A 32-year-old man from a Bedouin community near Dimona, Ouda Lafi al-Waj, was killed Saturday and a 3-month-old girl was seriously injured after their family was hit by a rocket fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Three other family members, including a 4-year-old boy and two women, were lightly-to-moderately wounded.

The incident in Dimona highlighted the severe lack of bomb shelters and protective cement structures in Bedouin villages across the Negev. Since many Bedouin communities are unrecognized by the government, many basic services are not provided to them. They are also not protected by Iron Dome, which registers their homes as “open areas” and allows rockets to fall there without attempting interception.

“Their homes are what’s called ‘open areas,'” one relative, Yasser al-Beit, told Ynet, “so Iron Dome doesn’t intercept the rockets. And there’s no warning siren. When you hear of impacts in open areas, sometimes it’s fallen (near) one of our homes. This time it fell on people’s home; hit everyone, a mother and children. We have no protection,” he said.

On Monday, two Bedouin girls aged 11 and 13, were seriously injured after a rocket fell near their home on the outskirts of Beersheba.

The girls’ grandfather, Ibrahim al-Wakil said then that “All the residents of the Bedouin diaspora are in danger, especially in the unrecognized villages. They are defenseless. We’ve asked time and again that they give us protection but nothing has been done.”

Ouda Lafi al-Waj was the second Israeli casualty to have been killed by rocket or mortar fire since the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge began on July 8.

On Tuesday, a man was killed near the Erez border crossing with the Gaza Strip after he suffered a direct hit from a mortar launched by terrorists in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave. Dror Khenin, 37, was treated by a medical team that arrived at the scene, but was pronounced dead at the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon a short while later. He was a volunteer who came to distribute food to the soldiers in the area. Another man was lightly wounded in the attack.

While the Iron Dome defense system has become a crucial factor in Operation Protective Edge, shooting down dozens of rockets from Gaza that would have otherwise fallen on inhabited areas, but the advanced mechanism cannot intercept mortars fired at targets in proximity to the border.

Rocket attacks from across the Gaza border fence persisted Saturday, with dozens raining down on Israeli territory throughout the day.

Earlier Saturday, the IDF foiled a major attack on Israeli civilians or soldiers near the Israeli community of Ein Hashlosha on the Gaza border. Four soldiers were wounded and one terrorist was killed in exchanges of fire with gunmen near the Gaza border in the central Gaza Strip, after a number of terrorists infiltrated Israeli territory through an underground tunnel,the army said.

The terror cell encountered an IDF patrol and opened fire with machine guns and anti-tank weaponry. Troops returned fire, pushing the terrorists back over the border and killing one of them.

The outbreak of cross-border fighting has been the deadliest round since a major Israeli military offensive in the winter of 2008-2009. The previous outbreak of cross-border violence, in 2012, eventually ended with the help of Egypt, at the time seen as a trusted broker by Hamas.

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