Israeli sources reported on Wednesday that fifteen Israelis, residents of Ashkelon (Asqalan) town were wounded, three seriously, after Palestinian fighters fired several homemade shells at the city. One of the shells was said to be a long-range “Grad” missile which hit a Mall in Ashkelon.

The wounded were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, while two residents were air lifted to Sheba hospital in Tal Ha-Shomer, due to the seriousness of their condition.

Israeli military sources reported that the Grad Missile hit the upper floor of the mall, where the Patients Fund and a women health clinic are located. Part of the roofing fell down, one physician, a nurse and fifteen residents were wounded.

The targeted Mall is attended by at least 10.000 visitors each day, Israeli sources said.

According to the Israeli Ynetnews website, several residents were trapped under large pieces of debris, and that four of them were in serious conditions including a mother and 2-year old daughter.

The Salah Ed Deen Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for the attack, the Ynetnews added.

Abu Abeer, spokesperson of the group told the Ynet, that this attack is a message to the Israeli government to stop its attacks and escalation, and as a message rejecting the proposed ceasefire.

He added that this attack “is dedicated to the refugees marking the 60th year of Palestinian Nakba and dispossession”.  

 The Israeli army said that it managed to identify the rocket being fired in real time, but the sirens had failed to launch as they were deactivated following repeated incidents of false alarms.

Army sources said that the missile was fired from Beit Lahia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday just before midnight the army carried an air strike against fighters of the Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. The army believes that two fighters were killed.