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Gaza rocket hits southern Israel

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A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip has hit southern Israel, exploding near the city of Ashkelon, the Israeli military has said.

No casualties were reported from the rocket, which landed in a field.

It is one of several rocket attacks from the territory since Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared ceasefires on 18 January.

The ceasefires ended Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza, which was aimed at stopping rocket attacks on Israel.

The ceasefires, independently declared by each side, have been violated several times.

An Israeli soldier was killed in a bomb attack on the Gaza border on Tuesday. Israel responded with air raids and a brief ground incursion by soldiers and tanks.

US envoy

About 1,300 Palestinians and 10 Israeli soldiers were killed in the three weeks of Gaza fighting. Three Israeli citizens died in rocket attacks.

Israel wants the rocket attacks to end and wants to prevent militants in Gaza from being able to rearm.

Hamas wants the border crossings into Gaza to be fully opened to end a 18-month blockade of Gaza which has wrecked its economy.

US President Barack Obama has sent his Middle East envoy George Mitchell to the region to "vigorously" pursue Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

He has arrived in Jordan after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He has no plans to meet leaders of Hamas, which Israel, the US and the European Union consider a terrorist group.

The Egyptians have been leading efforts to broker a permanent ceasefire by holding separate talks with officials from Israel and Hamas.

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