After lengthy searches, police locate projectile in the school’s courtyard; another missile hit a street, while a third was intercepted.
One of the rockets fired from Gaza on Friday night landed in the courtyard of a kindergarten in the southern town of Sderot, police said.
The missile caused damage to the kindergarten building, including smashing a window, but no injuries. No one was in the building when the rocket struck. Police sappers were called to the scene late Saturday, and the public was asked to keep away from the area, a police spokesperson said.
On Friday night, several rockets were fired at southern Israel, and security forces had been searching the area to find where they landed.
In addition to the missile found in the kindergarten, another hit a Sderot street, causing damage to nearby cars and a house, officials said late Friday.
A third incoming rocket was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense battery, the army said.
There were no serious injuries caused by the rockets, but some Israelis suffered anxiety attacks and received medical treatment, ambulance services said.
Friday night’s rocket launches came hours after some 5,000 Palestinian protesters demonstrated and clashed with Israeli security forces at almost 30 locations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip after midday prayers, in a show of anger against US President Donald Trump’s Wednesday decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In photo: Police find a rocket, fired from Gaza, inside a kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on December 9, 2017. (Israel Police)
Maj. Gen Yoav Mordechai, the military liaison to the Palestinians, wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday in Arabic that “irresponsible” terror groups are seeking an “escalation” with Israel, and warned Gazans that they will be the ones who end up paying the price.
“The continuation of the instances of [rocket] fire will lead to a severe and painful response by the IDF. Don’t try to test our strength,” wrote Mordechai.
He reiterated that Israel holds the Hamas terror group responsible for any attacks coming out of the enclave.
Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada, urged Palestinians to confront Israeli soldiers and settlers, and vowed to continue violence until the liberation of Jerusalem.
In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
In an Arabic Facebook post on Friday, Mordechai had stressed the US recognition would not affect Muslim access to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount – the holiest place in Judaism – which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
“The status quo in Jerusalem in general and Al-Aqsa, in particular, is being preserved. Don’t listen to extremists’ incitement and calls for violence,” wrote Mordechai, according to a Hebrew translation from the IDF.
Israel retaliated with a series of air strikes Friday on Hamas targets. In one of the IAF strikes on a Hamas base in Nusseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, two Hamas gunmen were killed.
“It is important for me to clarify beyond all doubt that despite the rumors and lies, there is no change on the ground: Friday prayers are taking place as usual, the crossings are open, and [Palestinian workers] are entering Israel,” he added.
Calling on the Palestinians to ignore the “lies and distortions that this is a religious war,” Mordechai said violence would only harm the Palestinians themselves, who “are being incited by lies about a war [between] religions.”
“I implore you not to allow extremists to ruin the Christmas holidays, the tourists headed towards you or the calm without which positive [and] meaningful growth is likely to stall or be lost.” he said.