A rocket fired from Gaza exploded near an Ashkelon-area kindergarten Tuesday morning as children were arriving at school, injuring a teenage girl and sending two other Israelis into shock.
The rocket landed shortly before 8:00 a.m. at Kibbutz Zikim, located less than a mile from the border separating Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza. A group calling itself the Army of Islam, which shares the ideology of al Qaida, claimed responsibility for the rocket strike.
None of the kindergartners was reported injured in the attack.
Eyelet Shapira, 14, who lives near the kindergarten, said she was showering when she heard a Code Red rocket alert. She was attempting to get to a fortified room when she heard the blast, which sent shards of glass flying towards her. She was treated at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and released on Tuesday after treatment for bruising in her leg.
Ayelet's aunt said it was a "miracle" that her injuries weren't more severe, noting that the rocket narrowly missed a nearby gas truck. Had the vehicle exploded, the damage would have been much worse, she said.
Israel Defense Forces sources say the attacks are part of an increase in Hamas military activity in recent weeks, much of it directed against Israeli troops and civilians living near the security fence separating the Jewish State from Gaza. Ten Qassam rockets and 30 mortar shells have been fired into Israel by terror groups during this period.
In testimony before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi reported that terrorist organizations in Gaza are targeting Israel with increasingly sophisticated weaponry. As an example, he said that on December 6, a Kornet missile fired from Gaza managed to penetrate the exterior of an Israeli tank but failed to detonate inside it. Ashkenazi added that the Iron Dome (an Israeli anti-rocket system that is partially funded by the United States) is not a foolproof solution to the rocket threat from Gaza.