Gaza rocket fired at Israeli city during Netanyahu visit – TV reports

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A rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at a southern Israeli city on Wednesday as it hosted a campaign visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, prompting him to briefly take shelter, Israeli TV stations reported.

The Israeli military confirmed the launch against Ashkelon, which is 12 km (7.5 miles) from the coastal Palestinian enclave, saying the rocket was shot down by an Iron Dome air defense interceptor.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas Islamists and where a smaller armed faction, Islamic Jihad, exchanged fire with Israel during a two-day surge of violence last month.

Israeli TV stations showed Netanyahu, who is campaigning to keep the helm of the conservative Likud party in an internal election on Thursday, being escorted off a stage by bodyguards.

The stations reported that he was taken to a bomb shelter after rocket sirens sounded but then returned to resume the event.

Netanyahu’s office had no immediate comment.

While Netanyahu is widely expected to retain Likud’s leadership, he faces a tough battle ahead of a March general election in Israel - its third in a year, after he and his centrist rival Benny Gantz failed to secure majorities in two previous ballots.

Netanyahu’s standing has been dented by an indictment on corruption charges that he denies.