JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the Israeli port city of Ashdod on Tuesday but no casualties or damage were reported, police and the military said.
Palestinian militants in Gaza launched thousands of rockets and mortar bombs into Israel during a war last July and August in which Israeli shelling and air strikes battered the small, coastal Palestinian enclave. The region has been largely quiet since the August ceasefire.
Tuesday’s rocket landed near Ashdod some 20 km (12 miles) north of the Gaza border and security forces were searching for remnants. It was the longest-range strike since the truce that ended the 50-day war last year.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility in Gaza for the rocket launching. Earlier reports by Israeli media said five rockets had been fired.
Israeli media speculated that infighting among Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza Strip may have precipitated the rocket firing without the permission of Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers.
Rival militant factions in Gaza are angry that months after the end of the war, no progress has been made to improve the isolated enclave’s plight and pledges for funding to reconstruct buildings devastated during the war have not been honored.
Reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas have faltered, adding to hardships and hampering foreign aid donations and the import of building materials.
Israel maintains a partial blockade on the territory and Egypt largely keeps the Rafah border crossing closed. Hamas has imposed a “solidarity tax” and salaries for workers not aligned with the Palestinian Authority are not being paid in full.
Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich