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Page last updated at 23:42 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Rocket fire from Gaza kills man in southern Israel

Israeli emergency services at scene of attack
The rocket struck a kibbutz, killing an agricultural worker

A rocket fired from inside the Gaza Strip has exploded in a kibbutz in southern Israel killing one person.

The rocket was fired less than an hour after EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton crossed into the Palestinian territory on an official visit.

The victim is reported to be a farm worker from Thailand who was killed by shrapnel as he stood in a greenhouse.

Israeli air strikes hit the Gaza Strip hours after the rocket attack, but there were no reports of injuries.

The aircraft hit three targets, including a workshop in Gaza City, smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border and an open field, Palestinian security officials and eyewitnesses said.

Border clashes

An army spokeswoman told Israel Army Radio it was the third rocket of the day fired from Gaza.

A militant group calling itself Ansar al-Sunna sent an email to reporters straight after the attack claiming they launched the rocket.

map

It is thought that they are one of several small Salafist groups in Gaza believed to be inspired by al-Qaeda.

But a second group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - linked to the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - also later claimed responsibility.

The man, who is in his 30s, is the first person to be killed by rocket fire in southern Israel since the Israeli campaign in Gaza last year.

Over the same period, 88 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in a mixture of Israeli military operations and border clashes, according to the United Nations.

Rocket fire into Israel has continued since the end of Operation Cast Lead, but there has been less than before the incursion.

The kibbutz, Netiv Haasara, runs parallel with the fence of the Gaza Strip.

The village is close to the Erez crossing and only a few hundred metres from the Gaza border fence.

It is the closest Israeli residential area to the border with the Gaza Strip and is situated next to a military base.

A woman was killed in the same kibbutz in 2005.



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