A rocket fired from Gaza struck open land in a residential area of the southern town of Sderot on Friday night. There were no injuries reported, although there was some damage to property, and several people needed treatment for shock.
Israel Police said that a bus was damaged in the strike, while the Ynet website reported that a home was also damaged. The residents were inside at the time of the strike, Ynet said, adding that several people were treated at the scene for shock. One woman was taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon after complaining of chest pains and ringing in her ears, the website reported.
Air raid sirens sounded at around 8:45 p.m. Friday night in southern Israeli communities along the Gaza border, after Israeli defenses identified two rocket launches from the coastal strip.
The “code red” alert was heard in Sderot and nearby communities, Channel 10 television said. The Home Front Command confirmed the rocket launches and instructed local residents to enter their protected areas.
Sderot municipality called Friday night for a strong Israeli response to the rocket fire.
“There is a pattern of activity designed to harm [local] inhabitants, in particular at sensitive times such as the holidays,” the city council said. “We have to exact a heavy price from Hamas and respond aggressively to the fire – and not just as a response.”
The attack followed a day of clashes in Jerusalem between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters.
The Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, had declared Friday to be a “Day of Rage” in response to days of violence on and around the Temple Mount — a site holy to Jews and Muslims that houses the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel had restricted entry to the Mount for Friday prayers earlier in the day, allowing only women and men over the age of 40 to pray there. Hundreds of Palestinians protested outside the Damascus Gate on Friday and three Border Police officers were wounded in an attack in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Sderot and the surrounding area were battered by rockets during Israel’s 50-day war with Hamas last summer. The rocket strikes mostly tailed off after the conflict, although there has been sporadic fire in recent days as tensions flared in Jerusalem. Most recently, a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza early Wednesday fell short of the border and landed in the Palestinian coastal territory.