Palestinians fired rocket deeper into Israel

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Jerusalem Oct 8: Palestinian militants fired a Katyusha rocket deep into southern Israel, the army and police said, showing an ability to extend the range of rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Gaza militants usually fire crude rockets that have a maximum range of about 9 km into Israel, but rarely go beyond 3 km. The Grad-type Katyusha, originally Soviet-designed, landed some 11 km inside Israel on oct 8.

The Katyusha slammed into an open field, causing a brush fire but no injuries, a police spokesman said.

Katyushas, widely used by Hezbollah guerrillas to strike Israel from Lebanon in a 2006 war, can reach a distance of 20 kilometres.

The Israeli military says it believes there are several dozen longer-range Katyushas in the hands of militant groups in the Gaza Strip, which was seized by Hamas Islamists in June.

No group claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.

An Israeli army spokesman said Israel held Hamas responsible for the Katyusha attack. ''Hamas bears responsibility for all the terror attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip regardless of who actually fired the rocket,'' captain Benjamin Rutland said.

He said that use of longer range rockets meant that they could be fired from deep inside Gaza, including from within heavily populated areas.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said Israel is considering a sweeping military operation in the Gaza Strip to counter the almost daily rocket salvoes. Israel also has threatened to cut power it supplies to the territory unless the attacks ceased.

With a US-sponsored Middle East conference expected to be held next month, Israel has so far stuck to limited ground raids and air strikes against militants.

Last year, Gaza militants launched a rocket that flew about 12 km and reached the centre of the major Israeli city of Ashkelon, causing no injuries.

In the occupied West Bank, a 45-year-old Palestinian who was wounded during an Israeli raid into the town's refugee camp several weeks ago was buried after he died in an Israeli hospital, his family said.


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