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Rocket fired from Gaza Strip hits southern Israel

No injuries or damage reported in second launch from Strip in hours; first rocket fell inside Palestinian territory

A masked Hamas member carries a model of a rocket during a rally in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on December 12, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A masked Hamas member carries a model of a rocket during a rally in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on December 12, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip fell in southern Israel on Sunday night, in the second such launch in hours.

The rocket hit an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council shortly after 11 p.m., the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. No injuries were reported, the IDF said, adding that forces were searching the area.

Hours earlier, a rocket fired from the Strip fell short of the Israel-Gaza border and landed in the Palestinian coastal territory.

There were no reports of damage from the earlier rocket, or confirmation from Israeli officials that the launch took place, the Hebrew-language news website Walla reported. The air raid siren did not sound in the Israeli communities adjacent to Gaza.

A number of rocket attacks have been launched from Gaza in recent weeks amid an escalation in violence against Israeli security forces and civilians in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Rockets were launched on Friday and Saturday night from the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, on both occasions landing in Israeli territory. No injuries or damage were reported in either attack.

The weekend strikes came after nine Palestinians were reportedly shot dead in confrontations with IDF troops along the Gaza border fence. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Hamas was to blame for the deaths, as the Islamist group encouraged Gazans to enter the closed area near the fence; on Saturday, some 70 Gazans burst through the border into Israel before being forced back, with five arrested.

Israel has deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the southern cities of Beersheba and Ofakim, it was announced Saturday, amidst concerns of increased rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip. According to Ynet, the two batteries join those deployed in Sderot and Netivot in recent weeks as tensions with the Palestinians have increased.

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