Southern Israel hit by Gaza rocket for first time in 3 months


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel for the first time in three months, causing some damage.

A long-range Grad rocket struck early Tuesday morning in the industrial zone of Ashkelon.

The al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed responsibility, saying it was in response to the death of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian man who died in an Israeli jail.

Palestinians have rioted in several areas of the West Bank since Jaradat’s death on Feb. 23, and two Palestinian children were injured in riots on Monday following the funeral. The Palestinians claim Jaradat died as a result of Israeli torture; Israel refutes the claim.

"We will never be free without fighting, and we must struggle in every way possible, including armed struggle, against the Israeli enemy," said a statement issued by the the al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades following the attack.

The last time a rocket fired from Gaza struck Israel was during last November’s Pillar of Defense, an eight-day defensive operation by the Israeli army. Some 1,500 rockets were fired from Gaza on southern Israel during the operation. 

No Color Red alert was sounded to warn residents of the approaching rocket. A military source told Ynet that the alert did not sound because it was believed the rocket would hit an unpopulated area.

There was no Iron Dome anti-missile battery in the vicinity either, as it had been redeployed since the threat of rockets being fired from Gaza had been determined to be low.

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