JERUSALEM – A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a house in southern Israel, seriously injuring a 40-year-old woman and threatening to escalate violence along the already volatile border.
Footage on Israel's Channel 2 TV showed medics taking a person strapped to a stretcher out of the house in the rocket-scarred town of Sderot. A hole gaped in the roof where the rocket smashed through.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld identified the woman as a 40-year-old resident of Sderot.
A violent offshoot of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party claimed responsibility for the attack.
Palestinian militants fire crude rockets almost daily at southern Israeli border communities, but the inaccurate projectiles rarely cause casualties or damage.
Still, seven people have been killed in rocket attacks since 2001, and the frequent launches have provoked numerous Israeli military strikes against Gaza militants.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces mounted an incursion into the coastal strip that killed six militants and left a wide swath of damage in its wake. The following day, Palestinian miltiants fired more than 20 homemade rockets into Israel, causing damage to structures and slightly wounding one woman in Sderot.
After that bout of violence, top Israeli political and defense officials decided to continue the policy of brief incursions into Gaza rather than launching a broad invasion.
But plans are in place for a major operation, should things fail to calm down.
"This reality cannot continue," Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told Israel Army Radio on Wednesday. "It could be that we will reach the point where we will have to do the big operation."
The violence clouded the relaunch of formal Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on Wednesday, after a seven-year breakdown.
Gaza is ruled by Islamic Hamas militants who allow rocket and mortar squads to operate freely against Israel.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in June after wresting control from forces loyal to Abbas.