Last Thursday, an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza City hit the back half of an Israeli school bus traveling on the main road linking Gaza periphery villages within Israel. The bus was near Kibbutz Sa’ad in the Sha’ar Hanegev region when it was hit.
According to news reports, a 16-year-old boy was critically wounded when the rocket exploded. The bus was dropping off children at the gates of Kibbutz Nachal Oz, less than one mile from the Gaza border, when it was targeted. Miraculously, no other students were on the bus. The bus driver was also wounded by shrapnel in Thursday afternoon’s attack, Haaretz reported.
Given the direct targeting of a school bus by an anti-tank weapon, the attack is being viewed as an escalation of an already deteriorating security situation in the south of Israel.
In New York, President Shimon Peres responded to news of the attack saying it was “another clear example of Gaza’s transformation into a terror state.” He told UN Security Council ambassadors that “hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel are not able to sleep peacefully at night as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.”
Sha’ar HaNegev Principal Aharele Rothstein said, “The children had just got off the bus; it was a miracle,” pointing out that the incident had been just moments away from being an even greater tragedy.
Terrorists have already fired over 200 rockets and mortars at Israel this year from Gaza, compared to 238 for all of last year. Israel has the right and duty to defend its citizens against this daily barrage of missiles.
Other rockets fired from Gaza today hit a home in the Eshkol region. Luckily no injuries were reported, but the house sustained damage.
To put this in perspective, the distance between those firing the missiles and the civilians they hit is less than the distance between the Pepsi Center and the Denver Zoo.
The last few weeks have seen a new upsurge in deadly terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. In Jerusalem, a bomb set in the busiest part of the city killed a 59-year-old woman and injured dozens more. The bomb was set shortly after terrorists butchered five members of the Fogel family including three children and both parents in the West Bank community of Itamar.
Our thoughts and prayers go to out the families as well the staff and students at Sha’ar HaNegev High School.
I know many of you would like to help. As you may know, your Federation dollars go to support victims of terror around the world. Federation supports the “Fund for Victims of Terror” with our overseas partner, Jewish Agency for Israel.
Doug Seserman, President and CEO