Two people were wounded on Thursday, 7 April 2011, by an anti-tank missile launched from the Gaza Strip at a yellow school bus near the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. One of the injured, a 16 year-old boy, is in critical condition. He was airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he is currently being treated for severe trauma. The driver was lightly wounded.
Daniel Viflic, who suffered severe head trauma, died of his injuries in Beersheba's Soroka Medical Center on Sunday (17 April).
The teenager, Daniel Viflic, had been visiting his grandmother for a few days, and went for a ride with the bus driver, who is a friend of the family. The driver had finished dropping off the last school children five minutes before the bus was hit. Anti-tank missiles, unlike rockets and mortars, are accurate weapons fired at a chosen target.
Terrorist organizations have equipped themselves with advanced anti-tank missile systems, such as the Kornet missile, able to inflict serious damage. (Archive photo: IDF Spokesperson)
Rockets and mortar shells are launched at Israeli population centers but for technical reasons cannot hit specific targets. However, this time an advanced laser-guided anti-tank missile was fired at an indisputably civilian target - a school bus - which, like other school buses around the world, was painted yellow.
Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack on the school bus.
Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claims responsibility for firing
the anti-tank missile at the school bus, referred to as an "occupation bus"
(Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, April 7, 2011)
The missile attack was followed by a barrage of rocket and mortar fire directed at the Israeli home front from the Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon. The attacks on the Israeli south continued over the weekend. Several were long-range rockets which hit north of the city of Ashdod. Several villages sustained damage to property and civilians were treated for shock. Between April 7 and 10 a total of 58 rocket and 67 mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
IAF aircraft targeted nine terror-activity sites in the Gaza Strip following these acts of terror. Earlier, IAF aircraft and artillery forces targeted two terrorist squads, who were involved in firing rockets and mortars at the Israeli home front.
IAF Air Defense Corps forces used the Iron Dome system to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli home front. Immediately afterwards, an IAF aircraft targeted the squad of terrorists who fired the rocket and confirmed a hit. The Iron Dome system, though operational, is still under evaluation.
President Shimon Peres said in response to the attacks that "This is another incident which proves the Gaza Strip has turned into a terrorist zone. No one would give up the safety of his country's citizens and Israel stands firm on the right to defend itself. Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel cannot sleep at night as a result of rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip."
"Hamas is an inhumane terror organization. Firing a rocket on a yellow school bus is proof of their cruelty and their clear intentions to kill children, women and innocent babies in cold blood. Hamas can choose to stop the weapons smuggling and firing missiles and then there will be total calm. But, if they choose to harm Israeli civilians, the IDF is ready retaliated accordingly."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he holds Hamas responsible for all terrorist attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip.
Kerem Shalom, the main entry point for goods entering the Gaza Strip, has been closed due to continuing rocket fire and the accumulation of concrete security threats against IDF soldiers who operate the crossing. This measure was taken on the order of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, since an anti-tank missile attack carried out by Palestinian terrorists on a school bus (April 7) at the Sa'ad junction, wounding two Israeli civilians.
Despite the closure, the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration notes that there are still large supplies of food and medical supplies in Gaza and that no shortages are expected in the coming days.
Prime Minister Netanyahu (April 10): "No other country would be willing to countenance the intentional firing of an anti-tank missile at a children's bus, to say nothing of criminal attacks against civilians, and Israel is certainly not willing to accept it. Today (April 10), the Cabinet instructed the IDF to do whatever is necessary to stop the firing at our people and restore quiet to the south. This is our intention. I hope that this will be Hamas's intention as well. If this is what it intends, then quiet will return. If it steps up its aggression, it will feel our arm and our response will be much harsher."