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Palestinian militants fire rocket toward Jerusalem

Nov 20th, 2012 - International News

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian militants have fired a rocket toward Jerusalem, causing an explosion moments after air raid sirens sounded across the city.

The sound of today's blast could be heard in the distance from downtown Jerusalem.

A police spokesman says the rocket apparently did not reach the city and authorities are searching for the blast site.

It's the second rocket attack aimed at Jerusalem since a round of fighting broke out between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza last Wednesday. Jerusalem, nearly 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Gaza, is the most distant city the militants have targeted.

The rocket attack occurred as diplomats are trying to work out a cease-fire.

A man identified as the most elusive top military commander of Hamas is urging the group's fighters to keep up attacks on Israel.

Mohammed Deif, seriously wounded in an Israeli airstrike in 2003, says Hamas "must invest all resources to uproot this aggressor from our land," a reference to Israel.

He was speaking from hiding on Hamas-run TV and radio.

Deif is one of the founders of the Hamas military wing and was its top commander until he was wounded in 2003. He was replaced as by Ahmed Jabari, who was assassinated by Israel last week in the opening salvo of its latest Gaza offensive.

The speaker on TV and radio was introduced as Deif, and a Gaza reporter said the speaker sounded like Deif.

President Barack Obama is sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East to help mediate an end to the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel has been firing rockets into the Gaza Strip in an attempt to end months of rocket fire out of the Hamas-ruled territory.

Clinton has been with Obama in Cambodia for the Southeast Asia Summit.

Iran says Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should be "equipped" to defend themselves against Israel.

But a Foreign Ministry spokesman refuses to comment on Israeli allegations that Iran is already sending arms to Gaza, which has been under Israel's attack since last week in retaliation for rockets fired by Hamas into Israel.

At least 113 Palestinians have been killed — nearly half of them civilians.

Iran is a major supporter of the militant groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which controls Gaza.

The spokesman also says Israel should be put on trial for war crimes over the latest offensive.

Iran has previously denied it had directly supplied Hamas with Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles that have hit near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

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