Portland Ashkelon Sister City Association

Connecting Our Cities for Our Common Good

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Ashkelon, Our Sister City, Hit by Rockets

Today Ashkelon, our sister city in Israel, was hit by long range Iranian -made Grad rockets from Gaza terrorists that they smuggled in through Egypt.

Ashkelon is only 11 miles north of Gaza. One of several hit an apartment building and one landed near a school and injured a 17-year-old girl.

I lived in Ontario, Oregon for at least 12 years. I know that it was only 12 miles to Vale, Oregon. That seemed so close. To think that rockets could be fired from there to Ontario and injure and kill people is shocking. Now I live in Gresham, and it's at least 12 miles to my son's home in Portland. That's how close the terrorists are to our sister city in Israel.

In the past, more than 24 rockets have hit the Ashkelon area and did not find a target. The latest round of rockets was the most intense so far, and the building hit was the first. Two days ago, a rocket exploded in the parking lot of Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital.

Since the terrorists now have longer range missiles, they have new targets. Sderot, a town with 20,000 residents has been hit the most. They lie just 1 mile from Gaza. On Wednesday an Israeli father of 4 was killed that hit the Sderot community college.

Ashkelon is a city of 110,000 residents. The rockets fired at it have the range of about 14 miles. Hamas is also upgrading its Qassams which they mass produce in Gaza, and they will have the range of 12 miles, though their range now is 10 miles so they fall just outside of Ashkelon at this time. Its residents want a warning system like Sderot has. They have no protection. The hospital also needs fortifications for the emergency room, maternity ward and surgery departments. They had better get protection quickly as Israel is not planning any ground offensive right now.

The Israeli army finally struck back on Thursday from Midnight into the afternoon in an effort to cease their firings. They are targeting rocket squads. The problem is that these squads are situated in populated areas on purpose. Israel's defense minister said that he would not be afraid to reoccupy Gaza if necessary in order to stop the attacks. Ehud Barak said Israel has not wanted to go into Gaza again but that an offensive is an option.

Condoleeza Rice met with Olmert in Tokyo. She urged calm on all sides. She's worried about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. I wish she'd talk to Hamas terrorist officials about that. It's they that bring on the situation in Gaza. There's not much that Israel can do until the terrorists stop firing rockets at us. Olmert may be calm in Tokyo, but I don't think anybody else is, especially those within range of the firings; Ashkelon.

Reference: USA Today

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