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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
City's residents defiant after attack
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Ashkelon, Israel

Pointing at the shallow crater in the school car park, principal Timora Shiri says her city, Ashkelon, has become the new frontline for Palestinian rocket attacks.

A Qassam - a crude home-made rocket - fired from Gaza landed in the grounds of the Ronson High School on Tuesday night, burrowing into the car park's red paving.

No injuries were reported during the attack.

Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip are nothing new for the communities lying close to it.

School principal Timora Shiri
Timora Shiri says rocket attacks are part of Israeli life
In the town of Sderot, an average of 80 rockets a month have landed within its municipal borders since September, according to the town mayor, Eli Moyal.

But this is the first time a rocket has hit Ashkelon - a major Israeli city lying about 10km (six miles) north of the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the attack was "a grave escalation" and authorised wider military action in Gaza to prevent future attacks.

Ashkelon's Deputy Major Levi Shafran declared that the attack represented "a new era for Ashkelon".

He warned that Israel could not afford a city of 120,000 people to be under the threat of Qassam attacks.

Ms Shiri says rocket attacks are part of Israeli life.

"I'm not scared because we are facing terror attacks here and round the world," she says.

One solution

In Ashkelon, most residents insist on going about their normal lives. Cars are on the streets, people are in the shops.

At the beach, young boys are bobbing up and down on the waves on their surfboards. Others are sunning themselves.

The army has to go in and take out the terrorists and destroy all the places where they are firing the rockets from
Victor Max
Estate agent

Aron Abrahamovitz, 68, has just finished his daily swim in the Mediterranean Sea.

As he packs his bag, Mr Abrahamovitz says things are still good in Ashkelon and there is no need to worry.

"This is not Sderot," he says, "but we hope it doesn't get worse."

Like Mr Abrahamovitz, many of the residents of this city are not surprised a Palestinian rocket hit their city.

Victor Max, 56, an estate agent sitting on the beach with his wife and their six-month-old son, says he expects another rocket attack.

Like many Israelis, Mr Max believes there is only one solution for tackling the Palestinian rocket attacks.

"The army has to go in and take out the terrorists and destroy all the places where they are firing the rockets from," he says.


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