Students and employees at Sapir College in southern Israel say they are living in constant fear, and even more so after a Qassam rocket killed a student at the college on Wednesday.
Sapir College is located in the northern Negev, within the range of the Palestinian Qassam rockets, and is attended by about 8,000 students.
"It’s difficult to conduct any routine here," said Dan Shmuel, 28, a third-year student of industrial management at the college. "There are constant barrages of Qassam rockets, and we have to flee to the reinforced areas. It’s just impossible to study for a degree in these conditions, with missile alerts every few minutes."
A 47-year-old student at the college, Ronny Yihya, was killed on Wednesday when a rocket was fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in the college’s parking lot.
Shmuel, an active member of the college’s student union, spoke with The Media Line shortly before studies at the college were suspended in order to allow students to attend Yihya’s funeral.
Shmuel talked about "difficult emotions" among the students, especially a feeling of frustration with the government’s handling of the rocket attacks.
A secretary working at the college said working there had become just as daunting as being in Sderot, where she lives. Sderot is the Israeli town most frequently hit by Palestinian rockets.
"The five-minute drive from Sderot to the college is my worst nightmare," she said. "That, and taking a shower. It’s a daily battle."
Some 50 rockets were fired on Ashqelon and the western Negev area within the space of a few hours on Wednesday, in what was one of the heaviest barrages in seven years.
Yihya was the 11th person to be killed by Palestinian rockets since 2004.
The Hamas-affiliated ‘Azz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades took responsibility for the rocket fire. The heavy barrage was probably a response to the killing of five Hamas members by Israeli aircraft on Wednesday morning.
Israel submitted a complaint to the United Nations following the rocket attack. The Israeli delegation criticized attempts to draw a comparison between attacks from Gaza and the Israeli responses, which Jerusalem says are imperative in order to protect the country’s citizens.
The rocket fire is a "war crime that harms both Israelis and Palestinians" Israel’s Foreign Ministry said. "Hamas’ terrorism does not only endanger the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, it also endangers peace and stability in the region as a whole."
Israel’s Home Front is on high alert in the communities surrounding Gaza for fear of more attacks. Schools are open, but pupils have been requested to remain inside the protected buildings, according to Israel Radio.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army is continuing raids in the Gaza Strip in order to eradicate rocket-launching cells. Israeli warplanes targeted the offices of Hamas’ Interior Ministry in the Strip.
At least 13 Palestinians have been killed in attacks since Wednesday morning. According to Palestinian sources, those killed consisted of armed Palestinians and unarmed civilians, including three children and a baby.