Gaza Militants Fire Rockets As Obama Heads To West Bank

Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel on Thursday, just as President Obama travelled from Israel to the West Bank, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

NPR’s Larry Abramson filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“Two of the rockets reached the southern town of Sderot, but one fell in an open area. The other caused some damage to a building, according to Israeli police.”

“This is only the second incident of rocket launchings from Gaza since a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel in November. President Obama, who spent last night in Jerusalem, is to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today.”

“Parts of the city have been blocked off and schools have been closed. In recent days, Palestinians have staged a series of small but vocal demonstrations against U.S. support for Israel.”

The New York Times reached a spokesman for Hamas, who did not take responsibility for the rocket launch. Salah al-Bardawil told the paper that in November, Obama had given Israel a “green light to destroy Gaza.” Obama, he told the paper, “speaks in the language of Israel.”

The Wall Street Journal adds a bit more background on the Palestinian Authority, which is facing tough times. The Journal reports:

“The Palestinian Authority is short on cash and has struggled to pay its 150,000 public servants on time in recent months fueling popular discontent with the leadership. In addition to seeking financial aide, Mr. Abbas is expected to ask Mr. Obama to pressure Israel to make some confidence building measures to strengthen his domestic political standing, which many believe is at an all-time low, and allow him to resume peace talks without appearing to have caved.

“For Mr. Obama, the visit with Palestinian leaders is a tricky diplomatic balancing act in which he must show support for the Palestinians without undercutting his message to Israelis.”

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