Gaza rocket hits sea off Tel Aviv

2012-11-16 14:58
Palestinian Hamas supporters march in support of the people of the Gaza Strip and against Israel's military operations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Majdi Mohammed, AP)

Palestinian Hamas supporters march in support of the people of the Gaza Strip and against Israel's military operations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Majdi Mohammed, AP)

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Tel Aviv - A rocket fired from Gaza on Friday crashed into the sea off Tel Aviv in the second incident in as many days, police and an eyewitness said, shortly after sirens wailed across the city.

"We believe it landed off the shores of Tel Aviv," police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said, as an eyewitness said he saw a rocket hit the sea "some 200m" from the beachfront US embassy, sparking panic among beachgoers.

Meanwhile, United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay condemned on Friday the killing of innocent civilians in the escalating Middle East conflict and called on both Israel and Gaza militants to cease hostilities.

"The High Commissioner has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel," Pillay's spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

"She is also extremely concerned by the sharp increase in aerial attacks by Israeli forces on heavily populated Gaza Strip in the last two days."

Watching and praying

Pillay placed equal emphasis on the need for both sides involved in the conflict to "pull back from the increasingly dangerous confrontation", the commissioner's spokesperson said.

In a reference to UN leader Ban Ki-moon's appeal on Wednesday for Israel to ease tensions with Gaza militants while also condemning the rocket attacks, Colville said that Pillay "joins with the secretary general and many others to take serious steps to avoid further escalation".

"We are urging both sides to stop," he said, lamenting that civilians were being killed on both sides, including several Palestinian children, a baby and reportedly a pregnant woman.

Colville insisted that both Israel and the Gaza authorities have a responsibility to protect their citizens.

"Everyone is watching and praying that it does not escalate any further," he said.

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