A rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip landed in Israel for the first time since Operation Pillar of Defence in November.
According to Channel Ten, a Grad rocket hit a road just south of Ashkelon at around 7am, causing damage to a road but no injuries. Ashkelon residents reported hearing two blasts and authorities are checking to see if a second rocket also landed in the area. However, local Ashkelon officials said that the city’s schools would remain open as usual this morning. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld commented, “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.”
No group in Gaza as taken immediate responsibility for the attack. It is the first of its kind since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brought an end to the eight-day long Operation Pillar of Defence in November, which saw intensive Israeli air strikes counter constant rocket-firing from Gaza into Israel. The Gaza border region has remained relatively quiet since then, punctuated by isolated cross border gunfire and infiltration attempts from Gaza into Israel. Israel and Hamas are believed to have continued indirect talks via Egyptian mediators over recent months in order to strengthen the ceasefire.
This morning’s rocket attack comes after two days of violent unrest in the Fatah-controlled Palestinian areas of the West Bank, following the death of a Palestinian man in Israeli detention over the weekend and protests last week demanding the release of four hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.