By Frank James

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by militants into a central Israel town that borders the Palestinian area killed a Thai farm worker Thursday, prompting Israel to promise retaliation.

Two militant groups claimed responsibility for the rocket, the first since Israel ended its invasion of Gaza early last year.

One aspect of the rocket attack raising concern is it appears it was done in defiance of Hamas, itself a militant group, which controls Gaza. Hamas last year had ordered a halt in such attacks.

One group claiming responsibility for the attack, Ansar al-Sunna, is said to be influenced by al-Qaida.

From the Jerusalem Post:

In a statement e-mailed to reporters in Gaza, the al-Qaida-inspired faction said the attack was a response to Israel's "Judaization" of Islamic holy places in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.

Another claim came from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a splinter group that splintered off from Fatah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' organization.

Despite the competing claims from the smaller militant groups, Israeli officials blamed Hamas.

More from the Jerusalem Post:

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom warned that the attack would lead to a strong reaction, and said that Hamas was ultimately responsible.
"It is severe escalation," said Shalom in remarks broadcast on Army Radio. "Israel will not return to the situation of before Operation Cast Lead. The response will be particularly fierce...I hope Hamas will learn a lesson."
The attack came on the same day as a visit to Gaza by Europe's top diplomat, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who had just crossed into the territory when the rocket was fired.

categories: Foreign News

2:56 - March 18, 2010