Gaza Rocket Hits Israel for First Time in Three Months

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel today for the first time since Israeli forces concluded an operation in November designed to end attacks from the Palestinian enclave.

There were no injuries, an army spokeswoman said, speaking anonymously in accordance with military regulations.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group associated with the Fatah movement, claimed credit for the attack in a statement, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency said. Ahmed Abu-Nasser, a Fatah spokesman based in Gaza, disputed the report in a phone interview.

Israel’s November operation in Gaza concluded with an Egyptian-mediated agreement with Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other Palestinian militant groups to halt rocket attacks.

“Calm with be answered with calm, rockets will be responded to with a reaction,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said today during a tour of communities bordering Gaza. “I believe that both parties have a profound interest in lowering the flames,” Peres said, in remarks broadcast on Army Radio.

The rocket strike comes after a week of demonstrations in the West Bank over the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The protests intensified after Israel announced Feb. 23 that a prisoner had died in custody, and Palestinian officials charged it was due to “torture and medical negligence.” The Israeli Health Ministry said an autopsy on the prisoner showed “no signs of external trauma” and initial findings were unable to determine the cause of death.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said today he has requested the United Nations conduct an international investigation into the prisoner’s death, according to a statement posted on the website of the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

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