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Rocket reportedly fired from Gaza lands in open area in southern Israel

March 2, 2017 10:23 A.M. (Updated: March 2, 2017 4:14 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A rocket was reportedly fired from the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening and landed in an open area in southern Israel.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an on Thursday morning that a “projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip” and landed in the Hof Ashkelon area, causing no injuries, and added that Israeli forces had searched the area.

The spokesperson said they were not aware of any actions taken by the army in response to the rocket.

However, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported on Wednesday evening that Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the blockaded Palestinian enclave, had evacuated some military positions in anticipation of possible Israeli reprisal.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov condemned the rocket as a “provocation” on Tuesday, and called “on all responsible parties to exercise maximum restraint, avoid escalation and prevent incidents that jeopardize the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

The Israeli army targeted multiple sites across the besieged Gaza Strip with airstrikes and artillery fire on Monday leaving at least four Palestinians injured, hours after an Israeli army spokesperson said that a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in southern Israel, causing no injuries or damages.

On Feb. 9, Gaza's Ministry of Health said that two Palestinians were killed and five were injured as a result of an airstrike on a smuggling tunnel between Egypt and Gaza, though an Israeli army spokesperson denied involvement in the incident.

The Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern in February in response to Israeli airstrikes that Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive.

The rights group called on the international community to “act promptly against Israel’s military escalation, to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians, and ensure respect for the rules of international law,” stressing that “acting before a full-scale military bombardment is launched is crucial to ensuring the protection of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli officials have accused Hamas, Gaza's de facto leaders, of "preparing" for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole, while Israeli authorities hold Hamas responsible for all attacks against Israeli targets coming from the Gaza Strip.

However, Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since a ceasefire was declared after Israel’s devastating war in Gaza in 2014, and the movement has attempted to clamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups that do launch rockets from the territory.
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