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Middle East

Hamas rockets strike West Bank

media Israeli soldiers search for a rocket after it was fired from Gaza and landed … Reuters/Ammar Awad

A Qassam rocket fired by Hamas aimed at Jerusalem hit the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Amos, south of Bethlehem yesterday. West Bank Palestinians came to blows at a rally that was supposed to show solidarity with the people of Gaza.

The rocket, an M-75 “upgraded” Qassam with a range of 75km, hit the front gate of Ma’Ale Amos, part of the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement complex 20km south of Jerusalem - the first time that a rocket from Gaza has struck the occupied West Bank.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

In Ramallah earlier in the day, a gathering of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah and Hamas supporters in solidarity with the people of Gaza ended with the respective parties' supporters coming to blows.

As Ramallah residents gathered in a downtown café to watch news from Gaza, Gazan-born Hatem Shaqfa told RFI that, while he dislikes both political parties, he is supportive of the Hamas attacks “because they imposed a siege on Gaza and that’s the reason for what’s going on now."

"When they prevent medicine and food getting into Gaza, they have to defend themselves,” he said.

Abbas spoke out Friday to say that events should not derail the Palestinian bid for obsever status at the UN, which would mean endorsing the 1993 Oslo Accords that cuts many of those in the West Bank off from Gaza.

Shaqfa said that many Palestinians feel that the bid is not the solution to the current conflict with Israel.

“The most important thing is to unite against this," he said. "It’s not impossible. But it needs a will from our leaders. Some of them like to talk in the media but on the ground they’re not active.”

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