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Israel suffers first rocket attack casualty since Gaza war

For 14 months after the Gaza war, the Israel border was relatively calm. Today's rocket attack will put pressure on Israel for a stepped-up military response at a time when the US is pushing for peace moves.

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An Israeli police officer is seen at the site where a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip hit the southern Israeli agricultural community of Netiv Haasara, near the border with Gaza, Thursday.

Tsafrir Abayov/Reuters

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A Palestinian rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel Thursday claimed the first fatality in Israel since it launched the Gaza war last year to shut down Hamas rocket attacks.

The attack killed a Thai guest worker in the agricultural village of Netiv Haasarah, which is just north of the border with the Gaza Strip. An unknown Gazan group, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported.

"It doesn't matter what organization takes responsibility for the fire,'' said Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai. "Israel isn't interested in a military confrontation, but it won't allow its residents to be shot at.''

The fatality will put pressure on Israel for a stepped-up military response in Gaza. It comes at a time when the US is pushing Israel to make gestures to the Palestinian Authority on reining in building in Jerusalem in order to get peace negotiations restarted. It could also be the first test of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy toward Hamas since he took office.

Severe clashes in Jerusalem

The attack comes two days after the worst Palestinian-Israeli clashes in Jerusalem in years. Hamas, which controls Gaza, called on Palestinians to initiate a new uprising and to take up arms against Israel in response to allegations of a plot to destroy Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City.

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