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Israel holds Palestinian president responsible for Gaza rocket fire

Rocket fired from Gaza Strip into Israel causes no injuries but does heighten tensions
Rocket attack is first on Israel since a new Palestinian government was formed last week
Israel holds Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for rocket fire; Abbas condemns the attack

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a main road in southern Israel on Wednesday morning, causing damage but no injuries, according to Israeli military reports.

It was the first such fire since the new Palestinian government was sworn in last week and tested both Israeli and Palestinian response.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formed the new government after reaching an accord reconciling his Fatah movement with Hamas, the group that ruled the Gaza Strip since a forceful takeover in 2007 and does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Israel rejects the new government due to Hamas, which it calls a terrorist organization responsible for firing thousands of rockets at Israel. Members of Abbas’ new government were appointed in agreement with Hamas, but its members are formally political independents and technocrats.

After the new government took office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a special security cabinet to discuss Israel’s response. Among other things, the cabinet decided to hold Abbas directly responsible for “terrorism emanating from Gaza.”

A statement from Netanyahu's office in response to Wednesday’s rocket attack read: “Israel holds Abbas responsible for the rocket fired today from Gaza.”

Several hours later, Abbas issued a statement carried by the Palestinian government news agency WAFA condemning the fire. He urged all factions to stay committed to the cease-fire understandings that ended Israel’s 2012 military offensive in Gaza, as well as to the reconciliation accord.

Abbas asked the factions not to give Israel any excuse to continue its attacks on Gaza.

It was not immediately clear what Palestinian group had fired the rocket.

Sobelman is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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