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Ashkelon Hospital moves babies to bomb proof area due to barrage of Gaza rockets

By Mason White 5:25 PM August 20, 2014
Babies at Ashkelon Hospital being moved to bomb proof area 

By: Anav Silverman
Several Gaza rockets exploded in Ashkelon today, prompting hospital officials to move babies to a bomb proof area, the Tazpit News Agency reported.

Since Tuesday night, Hamas has fired 100 rockets into Israel with approximately 30 rockets throughout the course of Wednesday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Rockets struck throughout southern Israel, with one directly hitting a home in Ashkelon today and another on a shopping mall yesterday.

The armed Abdul Qader Husseini Brigades of the Fatah movement to which the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, claimed responsibility for the two rocket attacks on Ashkelon on Wednesday morning.

Following the rocket attacks, Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center had its premature babies and newborns transferred to sheltered areas both underground and into a special delivery room located in a concrete bomb shelter.

“We’ve transferred 14 premature and 30 newborns as well as five mothers who just had caesarean sections, to more protected areas in the hospital,” the Medical Director of Barzilai Medical Center Dr. Chezi Levy told the Tazpit News Agency.

“We are trained for these kinds of war situations and we’re waiting to see what develops following the renewed rocket attacks,” Dr. Levy told the Tazpit News Agency.

“We are working closely with army officials in assessing the situation and deciding what our next steps will be. This is not the first time that the hospital has had to undergo security precautions, but we definitely hope it will be the last,” he said.

Barzilai Medical Center, established in 1961, has 300 doctors, 700 nurses and 532 patients, according to the center’s spokeswoman, Ayelet Kedar.

Two weeks ago, when the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect, the Ministry of Health and the Home Front Command announced that Barzilai Medical Center would return to full normal activity, setting new dates to all patients whose appointments were postponed during Operation Protective Edge.

Today, the hospital is carefully monitoring the current escalation of rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and is acting cautiously, hospital officials said.

In other news, the Israel Home Front Command issued new security instructions on Tuesday night, for southern Israelis, forbidding gatherings of over 300 people in communities within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip. Gatherings of 500 people within 40 kilometers of Gaza have also been canceled.

Other security measures include the closing of beaches and urban markets in the south, while public bomb shelters were reopened in communities located 40 to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

Local authorities in central Israel, also ordered the opening of public bomb shelters a few hours after Hamas violated the ceasefire on Tuesday, with rocket attacks on Be’er Sheva. The mayors of Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv ordered the opening of public bomb shelters on Tuesday night, when minutes later a heavy barrage of rocket fire from Gaza began.

Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades fired rockets at central Israel and claimed that it fired the Iranian Fajr 5 missiles at central Israel and the M-75 missile at Jerusalem on Tuesday night, where sirens were heard shortly before midnight. Eight rockets targeted Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, and a rocket was found in the Beit Shemesh area.

The Iron Dome intercepted at least five rockets heading for residential areas throughout the night, and several more during Wednesday, including one over Kiryat Malachi and over the Hof Ashkelon region.

Hamas breached the Egyptian-brokered truce on Tuesday afternoon, seven hours before it was supposed to end, firing a barrage of rockets at Be’er Sheva and southern Israel.