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Palestinian Rocket Hits Israeli City of Ashkelon


A rocket attack is raising tensions on the Israeli border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military says Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket that hit the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon 12 kilometers away. The Chinese-made Grad rocket landed near high-rise apartment buildings, causing damage but no injuries.

An eyewitness gave this account to Israel Radio: "Suddenly there was a boom, as if the rocket was falling on my head," he said. The man went out on his balcony and saw smoke. He said the blast blew out the windows of apartments and cars.

Rocket attacks have been rare since Israel's massive three-week assault on Gaza a year and a half ago. But with school due to resume in just one month after summer vacation, parents are already getting worried.

Sofi Chotobeli heads the Parents Committee in Ashkelon. She said the committee decided that children will not be sent back to classes in the city until all schools are equipped with portable bomb shelters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any Palestinian group, apparently to avoid being targeted by Israeli retaliation. But Israeli officials said they hold the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, responsible.

Israel's policy since the Gaza War has been to retaliate for every attack, usually with air strikes on tunnels allegedly used by Hamas to smuggle weapons. The foreign ministry said Israel reserves the right to respond in the appropriate time and place.

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