Grad Rocket Hits near Ofakim

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OFAKIM, Israel - A long-range Grad missile fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip exploded north of the Israeli town of Ofakim in the Merhavim Regional Council in the western Negev around 3:00 a.m. Friday, Army Radio reported. No people were hit, but three cows were wounded by shrapnel.

"We woke up from the explosion and went out to look, but it was dark so we went back to sleep," Yahu Madmoni, a father of three, told YNet news. "In the morning, we woke up and saw the damage," he said.

"The missile fell 150 meters [yards] from our house, near my parents' cattle shed. Three cows were injured and a water container and the shed's roof were damaged," he said.

Overnight, Palestinians fired a series of Kassam rocket in the same general area, with no resulting injuries or property damage.

Hamas defended the attacks, saying they were in response to Israel's targeted killing of two Army of Islam members, who were planning to kidnap Israelis vacationing in the Egyptian Sinai. The two jihadists had been involved in carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.

"It's unclear if this is an attempt to justify the failure of the negotiations or an attempt to sacrifice the Strip for the sake of the talks," a Hamas spokesman said on Friday.

"In any event, this is a clear Israeli attempt to drag the Palestinians in the Strip to respond to the Israeli crimes," he said.

In July, a Grad missile fired from Gaza hit near an apartment building in the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon. Eight residents were treated for shock.

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