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Over the past decade, Gaza militants have fired thousands of short-range rockets and mortar shells at Israel, and Israel has responded with military strikes.
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Islamist Rocket Hits Israel in First Attack Since Truce
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck Israel on Tuesday as tensions are mounting in the region weeks ahead of President Barack Obama's visit.

Militants claiming affiliation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement took responsibility for the attack, saying they fired the rocket to avenge the death of a Palestinian in Israeli custody.

The detainee, Arafat Jaradat, 30, died over the weekend after interrogation by Israel's Shin Bet security services. Palestinian officials, citing an autopsy, said the detainee was tortured, while Israel says more tests are needed to determine the cause of death.

Jaradat's death sparked protests in the West Bank, including near the town of Bethlehem on Monday.

Two Palestinian teens, ages 13 and 16, were wounded in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers. The older boy was transferred to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital after being shot in the head and was in critical condition Tuesday, breathing through a respirator, officials said.

In the West Bank, Abbas on Tuesday accused the Israeli military of using increasingly harsh methods to clamp down on Palestinian rock-throwing protests.

"We don't want tensions. We don't want escalation," Abbas said, rejecting recent allegations by Israeli officials that he was stoking tensions for political gains.

The rocket from Gaza landed south of the Israeli city of Ashkelon early Tuesday, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. The rocket caused damage to a road, but no injuries, he said.

It was the first rocket fired from Gaza since Israel's last major military offensive against rocket squads in the coastal strip last November. The Hamas militant group has ruled Gaza since ousting forces loyal to Abbas in 2007.

Over the past decade, Gaza militants have fired thousands of short-range rockets and mortar shells at Israel, and Israel has responded with military strikes. In between periods of cross-border violence, informal cease-fires have taken hold.


Editor's Note: NMJ's man on the ground in Israel, Howard Linett, reports on a statement issued by the Israeli Health Ministry on the autopsy on Arafat Jaradat: "This afternoon (Sunday, 24 February 2013), at the National Center for Forensic Medicine, an autopsy was performed on the body of Arafat Jaradat by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, Director of the Health Administration at the Ministry of Health, and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul. During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation [attempts] and a small graze on the right side of his chest. No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy. Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest. Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts. The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death. At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings"...Be sure to read Mr. Linett's bi-weekly reports here.

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