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Benjamin Netanyahu cuts short US trip after seven injured in strike on Israeli home

Benjamin Netanyahu has cut short a trip to Washington after seven people were injured by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

The strike destroyed a home in the Mishmeret farming community, north of the city of Kfar Saba.

Among the wounded were six members of the same family, including two children.

It is the furthest a rocket fired from Gaza has travelled into Israel since the conflict began in 2014, and one of the paramedics first on the scene said it was “a miracle that nobody got killed”.

Military spokesman Mika Lifshitz said more troops would be sent to the Gaza border in response to the attack, which she said had been carried out by Hamas fighters stationed near the southern Palestinian city of Rafah.

She added that it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of about 75 miles.

Mr Netanyahu has been in the US capital for a meeting with Donald Trump and had also planned to see congressional leaders, but will depart early ahead of what is expected to be a strong Israeli response to the attack.

The Israeli prime minister said: “There has been a criminal attack on the state of Israel and we will respond forcefully.

“In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward.”

Nobody has said they were behind the rocket launch, which came down at 5.25am local time on Monday, but it comes amid a recent back-and-forth between Israeli forces and Hamas.

Israel targeted Gaza earlier this month after rockets were fired toward the commercial capital of Tel Aviv, but tensions subsided after Hamas leaders insisted it was an accident.

With it seemingly difficult to dismiss the latest incident as a misfire, Hamas leaders have reportedly gone underground.

According to witnesses, key personnel have been evacuated from government buildings, and the militant group has confirmed that its leader in Gaza, Yehiya Sinwar, has cancelled a public speech.

Israel has shut its main crossings into the territory and imposed restrictions on fishing off the Gaza coast.

It comes just over two weeks before what is set to be a tightly contested Israeli election, with Mr Netanyahu under threat from centrist challenger Benny Gantz.

The prime minister has seen his tough-on-security image suffer some damage because of the recent strikes, and he is also facing allegations of corruption.

He is suspected of accepting gifts, including cigars and champagne, from wealthy businessmen and dispensing favours in return for favourable media coverage.

It is the first time a serving Israeli prime minister has been put on official notice of a planned prosecution and he could face up to 10 years in jail if convicted of bribery – and a maximum three-year term for fraud and breach of trust.

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