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Rocket fired at south Israel amid West Bank tensions

Feb. 26, 2013 10:32 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2013 7:42 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A rocket was fired at southern Israel on Tuesday from the Gaza Strip, Israel's army said.

"An explosion was heard in the Ashkelon region, experts searched the area and found one rocket that struck, damaging a road but causing no injuries," Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for firing the rocket, a statement from the group said.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, said it was investigating.

The US State Department said American diplomats have contacted Israeli and Palestinian leaders to appeal for calm.

The incident comes as tensions in the West Bank continued for a second day on Monday following the death of Arafat Jadarat in Israeli prison custody.

A 13-year-old boy was seriously injured during protests in Bethlehem after being shot with live ammunition, and underwent surgery in Beit Jala hospital, his family said.

Another teenager, Odai Sirkhan, 16, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet in Bethlehem and taken to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, where he is said to be in a critical condition.

The bullet penetrated his head and he is due to undergo surgery, Israeli media reported.

Dozens of people were injured Monday by rubber bullets and tear gas across the West Bank as hundreds of people demonstrated to express anger at the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jadarat, who PA officials say died after being tortured by Israeli interrogators.

Thousands of people had earlier attended his funeral in the Hebron village of Sair.

Robert Serry, the UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, on Monday called for "an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Jaradat's death, the results of which should be made public as soon as possible".

The rocket fired at southern Israel is the first such attack from the Gaza Strip since a ceasefire agreement signed in November last year.

In the same time period, Israeli forces have shot and killed three people in the Gaza Strip and injured at least 40, amid numerous incursions into border areas of the coastal territory.

In the West Bank, soldiers shot and killed Samir Ahmad Abdul-Rahim, 17, in the village of Budrus on Jan. 15.

He sustained four bullet wounds to his head, chest and leg and died shortly after arriving at the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

Days later, 15-year-old Salih al-Amarin from Azza refugee camp was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers and died in a Beit Jala hospital.

Reuters contributed to this report
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