Israel: Gaza rocket lands in Ashkelon


Hamas police officers embrace after their return to their destroyed Al-Saraya headquarters in Gaza City on November 22, 2012, a day after a cease fire was declared between Israel and Hamas. An Egypt-brokered truce took hold in the Gaza Strip after a week of bitter fighting between militant groups and Israel, with both sides claiming victory but remaining wary.



JERUSALEM — A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel, the first breach of a cease fire since the last Gaza conflict.

"The rocket fell early in the morning near Ashkelon and did some damage to a road, without hurting anyone," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Agence France Presse.

The incident is the first attack since the end of an Israeli operation in late November, when more than a thousand rockets were fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza strip in reaction to the assassination of a Hamas military commander.

GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, said the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed branch of Fatah — the political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — has taken responsibility for the act. The group said the attack was a retaliation for the death of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian who recently died in Israeli custody.

Tarnopolsky said the rocket could partly be aimed at getting the attention of US President Barack Obama, who is visiting Israel and the West Bank in March.

"While it is hard to imagine the White House being receptive to news of a rocket or Hamas-Fatah infighting in Gaza, not to mention a major insurrection, it seems the Palestinian authorities believe this positions them in a stronger place for conversations with Obama," Tarnopolsky said.

Tarnopolsky said that Israeli military officers think this rocket attack is a one-off event.

On Monday, thousands of Palestinians protested during a funeral for Jaradat. But those demonstrations appeared to subside on Tuesday.

"For now, I have seen only very sporadic reports of possible tensions in Hebron," Tarnopolsky said. "The one-day hunger strike by 4,500 sympathizing prisoners has ended."

Mariya Karimjee contributed to this report.