The news of a possible ground assault on Gaza was met with a mixture of trepidation and relief in Beersheva, which was under renewed attack on Wednesday.
At around 8pm, six Grad rockets were fired towards the city. One struck the centre, causing damage to a car and shops, but no injuries were reported.
At least 150 rockets have been launched in the past four days, including around 25 shot down by the Iron Dome defence system.
Beersheva was in lockdown on Wednesday night. Homefront Command closed schools and the campus of Ben Gurion University , located on the outskirts of the city. Residents were instructed by police not to spend time in open areas and to head for shelters.
“I was in the park this afternoon with my children when the sirens sounded,” said Hannah Rendell, owner of Beersheva Art Experience, a tourist business. “We all ran to our cars. We were terrified. You didn’t have time to strap your children in. We are terrorised here, something had to happen to stop this. I support the targeted Israeli response”.
Rocket sirens were sounded in towns, cities and kibbutzim across the Negev.
One Ben Gurion biochemistry student said he was concerned for his safety and was considering returning to Haifa, his home city. “The rockets have been landing on all of the major cities around Gaza in the last days and weeks. We can’t go on like this. This level of violence feels like the period before Operation Cast Lead. It has been terrifying, although we are well prepared here.”