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Despite truce, 2 Gaza rockets are lobbed at Israel

An Israeli man reacts after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip hit the Nir Am communal farm on Sunday.

Associated Press

An Israeli man reacts after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip hit the Nir Am communal farm on Sunday.

JERUSALEM — Two rockets fired by Palestinian militants struck southern Israel on Sunday, Israel's military said, violating an informal truce even as Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers appeared to hurry closer to a long-term cease-fire deal two days before Israeli elections.

In separate attacks, Palestinian rockets exploded in the Nir Am communal farm and the southern city of Ashkelon. No injuries were reported, though cars and buildings were damaged, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack.

The Gaza Strip's strongman, Mahmoud Zahar, was in Syria, consulting with his Hamas bosses about the truce talks, while Israel's defense minister warned Israelis they would have to pay a painful price as part of any deal. The flurry of activity came as Israelis prepare to elect a government expected to take a harder line in Palestinian talks.

The Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamadan, said negotiations would continue in Cairo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I believe it is more logical to discuss the issue of truce with a new (Israeli) government instead of one which is leaving in hours," he said on Lebanese TV, though a new Israeli government would not take office until several weeks after the election.

Israel wants militants to halt their attacks, end arms smuggling into Gaza and release an Israeli soldier Hamas has held for more than 2 1/2 years.

Hamas wants an end to Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, which has severely restricted the movement of goods since Hamas seized power in June 2007. It also has demanded the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in return for the soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit. Hundreds of the prisoners have been involved in deadly attacks on Israel.

"We're not talking about hocus-pocus in which we roll the dice and get Gilad Schalit in return for a nice smile or a gesture," said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "In the end, attached to it is a heavy and painful price that we'll have to decide on."

Also Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the front-runner in election polls, declared that he would not give up the strategic Golan Heights for peace with Syria, an apparent attempt to toughen his right-wing credentials. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war.

Despite truce, 2 Gaza rockets are lobbed at Israel 02/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:48pm]

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