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Rocket explodes in Israel, first attack from Gaza since truce

Members of the media photograph the remains of a rocket, displayed by Israeli explosives experts, at Kibbutz Zikim near Ashkelon on Tuesday.Amir Cohen / Reuters

JERUSALEM -- A rocket exploded in southern Israel on Tuesday in the first such attack by militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since a truce ended a week of cross-border fighting in November, Israeli police said.

The rocket caused some damage to a road near the city of Ashkelon but no injuries, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"An explosion was heard in the Ashkelon region experts searched areas experts and found one rocket that struck, damaging a road but causing no injuries," Rosenfeld said.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' West Bank-based Fatah movement, called the rocket a "first response" to inmate Arafat Jaradat's death in disputed circumstances on Saturday. 

"We must resist our enemy by all available means," the group said in a statement emailed to reporters. "We stress our commitment to armed struggle against the Zionist enemy."

Hamas said it was investigating the attack, which followed a surge in West Bank protests since Jaradat's death and intermittent hunger strikes by four other prisoners.

In the latest violence there, Israeli troops shot and wounded five Palestinians during confrontations with protesters in the Bethlehem area on Monday and a 15-year-old boy was in critical condition.

The death in disputed circumstances of Arafat Jaradat, buried in a funeral in the Hebron area attended by thousands on Monday, and a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates, have stoked tensions ahead of a planned visit next month by U.S. President Barack Obama.


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