Gaza rocket slams South for first time since truce

Grad explodes in Ashkelon; first such attack by terrorists in Gaza since the ceasefire following Operation Pillar of Defense.

IDF soldiers at Iron Dome battery site near Ashkelon 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF soldiers at Iron Dome battery site near Ashkelon 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian terrorists broke a three-month cease-fire on Tuesday and fired a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel.
The rocket fell on a road south of Ashkelon causing damage, but no injuries.
The M-75-type medium-range projectile was the same as those used to hit Tel Aviv and greater Jerusalem during November’s eight-day conflict with Hamas.
The Gaza branch of Fatah, the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, said it was behind the attack, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
The report said the brigades fired a rocket in response to the “liquidation” of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat, who recently died in the Megiddo security prison.
Although Hamas is not believed to have fired the rocket, it is unlikely that the Al-Aksa Brigade in Gaza could have done so independently, without Hamas’s blessing.
The rocket siren warning system did not go off in Ashkelon during the attack, a failure that is being investigated by the IDF.
Following the attack, the IDF shut the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza to goods and decreased activity at the Erez Crossing, allowing only humanitarian goods to enter the Strip.
According to Ch.-Insp. Liat Nidan of the Lachish sub-district, police have not increased their level of readiness in the wake of the rocket strike, and have not received any sort of assessment from the security establishment about a possible flare-up in the days to come.
“An explosion was heard in the Ashkelon region. One rocket struck, damaging a road, but causing no injuries,” national police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld added.
The attack came following Jaradat’s death on Saturday. Israel has dismissed claims by Palestinians that the prisoner was tortured, saying he suffered a heart attack.
The death of Jaradat, buried in a funeral in the Hebron area attended by thousands on Monday, along with a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates, have stoked tensions ahead of a planned visit next month by US President Barack Obama.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor sent an urgent letter to Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, calling on the Security Council to issue a swift condemnation of renewed rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.
“The fragile calm that has prevailed over the past three months has been shattered,” Prosor wrote. “Israel holds Hamas fully responsible for any attack that emanates from areas under its control.”
Michael Wilner contributed to this report.