JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A mortar fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel, the Israeli military said on Saturday, the second such incident since a seven-week war in the Palestinian enclave ended in August.
Hours after the projectile struck harmlessly, there was no Israeli counter-strike, an apparent sign Israel was looking to avoid any escalation. An Aug. 26 Gaza truce has largely held.
The rocket fire came amid rising tension between Israel and the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state, along with Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
“Overnight a rocket or mortar launched from Gaza struck southern Israel. No damage or injuries reported,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter.
There was no claim of responsibility from any armed faction in Gaza, dominated by the Islamist Hamas group. A military spokeswoman said forces were still searching for debris.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces have erupted frequently in the streets of East Jerusalem and around al-Aqsa mosque in the past few weeks.
The Palestinians say Israel is looking to change the delicate status-quo at the compound where al-Aqsa stands, known as Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews. It is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred in Judaism.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel had no intentions of altering the status-quo by which Jews are allowed to access the compound but not to pray there. The Palestinians are further angered by Israel’s moves to expand settlement building in East Jerusalem.
On Thursday Israel shut the holy complex down for almost an entire day as a security precaution, the first full closure in over a decade. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said through his spokesman that the shut-down, along with other escalations by Israel, were “tantamount to a declaration of war”.
Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Toby Chopra