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Israel mobilises troops at Gaza border after rocket attack destroys home and injures seven

Police officers inspect the damage to a house hit by a rocket in Mishmeret, central Israel. Picture by Ariel Schalit/AP
Associated Press

The Israeli military has said it is reinforcing its troops along the Gaza border and calling up reserves after a rocket attack on an Israeli home.

Military spokesman major Mika Lifshitz said two armoured and infantry brigades are being mobilised and that there is a limited drafting of reserves under way following the attack, which destroyed a house and left seven people wounded in central Israel.

She said the military has concluded that Gaza's militant Hamas rulers fired the rocket from one of their launching pads in the southern part of the coastal strip, near Rafah.

Maj Lifshitz said it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of about 75 miles.

The attack prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Washington.

The rocket destroyed a residential home in the farming community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, wounding six members of a family.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said it treated seven people overall, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.

"It's a miracle that nobody got killed," said Assi Dvilanski, a paramedic who was one of the first responders at the scene.

Mr Netanyahu held emergency consultations with military officials in Israel and decided to cut his visit short, cancelling a planned address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference and meetings with US congressional leaders.

"There has been a criminal attack on the state of Israel and we will respond forcefully," he said.

"In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward."

Anticipating a strong Israeli response, Gaza's Hamas leaders have apparently gone underground.

Witnesses reported seeing Hamas evacuating its personnel from government premises. Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yehiya Sinwar, had cancelled a scheduled public speech.

Israel also shut down its main crossings into Gaza and imposed restrictions on fishing off the Gaza coast.

Monday's attack came 10 days after rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel's densely populated commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

The Israeli military at the time struck back and the sides appeared to be hurtling toward another confrontation. But Gaza's Hamas leaders said the rocket was fired accidentally and calm was quickly restored.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's attack, but it would seem to be much harder to dismiss the latest incident as another misfire.

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