Israel: Gaza rocket attacks strike Ashdod and Yavneh

Israeli police officer with Grad missile near Ashdod. 24 March 2011 Israeli police recovered wreckage of one of the Grad missiles near Ashdod

Two rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, a day after Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-governed territory.

One rocket exploded south of the port city of Ashdod and the other landed north of it, Israeli military officials said.

There have been no reports of casualties.

The rocket attacks come amid growing cross-border tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials said the two Grad rockets fired on Thursday landed to the south and north of Ashdod. Israeli media said one of the blasts had been heard in Yavneh, about 25km (15 miles) south of Tel Aviv.

Mortars were also fired overnight from Gaza into the western Negev desert, the Israeli military said.

The BBC's Jon Donnison in Gaza City says there have been at least three Israeli airstrikes as well as artillery fire on targets in Gaza on Thursday. At least one Palestinian has been injured.


Rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Wednesday prompted Israeli air strikes east of Gaza City later in the day.

The Islamic Jihad militant group said it had carried out the earlier attacks in reprisal for the killing of eight Palestinians near Gaza City on Tuesday. Four of those killed were members of one family, and included two children.

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Exchanges since Saturday have been among the most serious since Israel's major offensive in the coastal strip between December 2008 and January 2009. Gaza has been run by the Islamist Hamas movement since 2007.

On Wednesday, a bomb left at a bus stop in Jerusalem killed one person and wounded many others. No group has said it carried out that attack.

Israel has promised a tough response to continued attacks from Palestinian militants inside Gaza.

Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak, referring to the missile strikes and the Jerusalem bombing, said on Thursday that Israel "will not tolerate these terrorist attacks".

"We will not allow terror to rise once again," he said at a joint news conference with visiting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

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