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Netanyahu says will cut short Washington visit after rocket strike near Tel Aviv

Amir Cohen, Reuters | Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem on March 21, 2019.

Israel’s army accused Hamas of firing a rocket that hit a house north of Tel Aviv on Monday, wounding seven people, and announced it was sending reinforcements to the Gaza area.

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The military said on Twitter the rocket had been fired from the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip.

It announced it was sending two additional brigades to the area around the Hamas-run enclave and was carrying out a limited call up of reservists.

“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of its positions in the Rafah area,” Israeli army spokesman Ronen Manelis said.

The rocket would have had to travel some 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Rafah to hit the house in the community of Mishmeret.

It has raised fears of a severe military escalation between the two sides just ahead of April 9 Israeli elections.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier he was cutting short a trip to the United States and returning home due to the security situation.

“I have decided, due to the security incidents, to cut short my visit to the United States. I will meet President (Donald) Trump in a few hours and just after that I will return to Israel to lead closely the operations,” Netanyahu said in a video released by his office.

Rocket strike 'worst news' for Netanyahu on Washington visit, says Jordana Miller in Jerusalem

The prime minister cancelled a scheduled address to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual conference on Tuesday.

Hamas had so far not commented on Israel’s accusations.

Earlier, its ally in Gaza Islamic Jihad said “we warn the Zionist enemy from committing an aggression against the Gaza Strip”.

“Their leaders should be aware that we will respond with force against their aggression,” it said in a statement, without commenting on who may have been responsible for the rocket.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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