Rocket sirens sound in Ashkelon, Gaza border communities

Attack follows two hours after rocket lands in open area in Eshkol Regional Council; IDF strikes Hamas military post in northern Strip in response; strikes come after 16-year-old Palestinian protester shot dead during clashes at Gaza border fence

Yoav Zitun|
Rocket sirens sounded at 11pm Friday in the southern city of Ashkelon and the kibbutzim of Karmia and Zikim near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said that the projectiles fired from Gaza at Israel were not rockets, adding that the air raid warning and air defense system functioned as required.
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יירוטים מעל אשקלון
יירוטים מעל אשקלון
Archive: The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts rockets over Ashkelon
(Photo: Reuters)
The Friday night attack from Gaza came just two hours after a rocket fired from the Hamas-run coastal enclave fell in an open area of Eshkol Regional Council, close to the border with the Strip.
There was no damage or injury caused in the attack.
The IDF struck a Hamas military in northern Gaza in response.
The rocket attacks follow the death Friday afternoon of 16-year-old Palestinian Fahed al-Astal, who was shot in the stomach by IDF troops during a protest along the border fence. Four other people were wounded, according to Gaza officials.
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פהד אלאסטל
פהד אלאסטל
Fahed al-Astal
The protest took place despite a decision by Hamas to suspend the weekly "March of Return" demonstration for the third consecutive week, in line with a request from Israel as part of negotiations for a sustained period of calm in Gaza.
A member of the "March of Return" steering committee said after the death of the teen that Israel was responsible for the loss of life and called on protesters to turn out for a demonstration next week.
The IDF said the claims regarding of the circumstances of the boy's death would be investigated, adding that dozens of rioters had arrived the border independently, tried to sabotage the fence and threw explosives at the IDF troops there.
Also Friday, Palestinians said that one of the Islamic Jihad operatives hurt during the most recent round of violence had succumbed to his wounds.
The organization threatened at the end of the flare-up that the killing of protesters at the Gaza fence by the IDF would lead to a military response - but the organization has so far not claimed responsibility for launching the rockets on Friday night.
Hamas said earlier Friday that contacts have been renewed over the past two days between the organization and various mediators, primarily Egyptian intelligence officials, regarding reaching an agreement with Israel over calm in Gaza.
Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is considered very close to the organization, reported that UN special envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov is expected to meet in the coming days with the Hamas leadership in order to complete the negotiations on the agreement.

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