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Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?

By Reuters - Oct 23,2018 - Last updated at Oct 23,2018

A Palestinian protester waves a national flag during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on Monday (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — A theory that a lightning strike triggered Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza last week gained traction in Israel on Tuesday and might explain the Israeli force’s limited response.

Two rockets were allegedly launched from the Hamas-ruled enclave on October 17. But the group took the unusual step of denying it had carried out an attack. Israeli official Tzachi Hanegbi said there was reason to believe that was true.

One of the rockets landed in Beersheba, causing no casualties, the other landed in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel responded with air strikes that killed a militant in Gaza.

Soon afterwards, video appeared on social media showing lightning illuminating the night sky in Gaza and then two flaming rockets streaking into the air.

Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Tuesday that Benjamin Netanyahu’s security Cabinet now believed the lighting set off a launch mechanism.

Asked about the report, Israeli official Ayelet Shaked, a member of the security Cabinet, told Israel Radio: “I won’t discuss security Cabinet meetings and I don’t know which ministers are chatting with journalists, but I can say that as far as we know, Hamas did not intend to fire those rockets.”

Hamas officials had no immediate comment.

The rocket launchings coincided with Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, which have fought three wars in the past 10 years.

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