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Rocket hits Ashdod as Hamas rejects ceasefire

A rocket fired by Palestinian militants struck the southern port city of Ashdod in Israel on Tuesday, just hours after Israel agreed to abide by an Egyptian truce that was rejected by Hamas.

JERUSALEM: A rocket fired by Palestinian militants struck the southern port city of Ashdod in Israel on Tuesday, police said, just hours after Israel agreed to abide by an Egyptian truce that was rejected by Hamas.

Under the terms of the blueprint announced by Egypt - whose military-backed government has been at odds with Hamas - a mutual "de-escalation" of fighting was to begin at 0600 GMT, with hostilities ceasing within 12 hours.

Rocket salvoes were fired at Israel after 0600GMT and live television showed the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepting several projectiles over the port city of Ashdod, where a factory was hit. Emergency services said no one was hurt.

Sirens sounded in other parts of southern Israel after what Channel Two television reported had been volleys of at least 10 rockets.

"The rocket struck a yard outside a house in Ashdod, several people have been treated for shock," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

The attack was claimed by the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which said it had fired "eight Grad rockets" at Ashdod, which is home to some 212,000 people.

Earlier, the Israeli security cabinet voted to accept an Egyptian proposal for a unilateral ceasefire which went into force at 0600 GMT, although it warned it would respond "with force" to any further rocket fire.

Hamas's armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the reported text of the deal announced by Egypt, Gaza's neighbour, saying: "Our battle with the enemy continues and will increase in ferocity and intensity."

But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official who was in Cairo, said the movement had made no final decision.

"We are still in consultation and there has been no official position made by the (Hamas) movement regarding the Egyptian proposal," Moussa Abu Marzouk said in a Facebook posting.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said earlier on Tuesday that the Islamist group had not received an official ceasefire proposal, and he repeated its position that demands it has made must be met before it lays down its weapons. 

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