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Palestinian Rocket Attack Tests Shaky Gaza Cease-Fire

Palestinian rocket fire at Israel is testing a shaky ceasefire in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket at Israel that landed near the coastal city of Ashkelon. There were no injuries or damage, but the attack raised the prospect of further Israeli retaliation. Israel has vowed to respond harshly to any Palestinian rocket fire and there have been a series of tit-for-tat attacks since a ceasefire ended the Gaza war two weeks ago.

Israeli analyst Dan Schueftan says Israel needs to strengthen its new policy of deterrence.

"Every time they shoot a rocket, we should react without any proportion in a way that will not only hurt them but also humiliate them," he said.

Egypt is trying to mediate a long term ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas which rules Gaza. But Hamas says it will not stop the rocket fire and other attacks unless Israel opens border crossings into Gaza and lifts its crippling blockade. Israel says that cannot happen until Hamas releases a captive Israeli soldier held for two and a half years in Gaza.

The soldier, Gilad Shalit, is a powerful bargaining chip for Hamas. Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told a rally in Gaza that Israel must pay a high price.

He said "Shalit will not see the light of day" until Israel releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Israel says the problem is not with the numbers but the names. Hamas is demanding some top militants involved in bombings with mass casualties, and Israel says they will not be released.