A rocket lifted off from the Gaza Strip at a southern Israeli city on Wednesday as it hosted a campaign rally by PM Benjamin Netanyahu prompted him to take cover briefly before resuming the event, Israeli TV stations reported.
The Israeli army confirmed the launch against Ashkelon, which is 12 km from the coastal Palestinian enclave, and stated the rocket was gunned down by an Iron Dome air defense interceptor.
There was no fast claim of responsibility in Gaza, which is under the management of Hamas Islamists and where a smaller armed disagreement, Islamic Jihad, exchanged fire with Israel during a two-day surge of the offensive last month.
Israeli TV stations showed Netanyahu, who is campaigning to keep the leadership of the conservative Likud party in an internal election Thursday, being escorted off a stage by bodyguards. The stories said he was taken to a shelter after sirens alarmed.
It was the second such event after a September appearance by Netanyahu in the nearby city of Ashdod was briefly interrupted by a rocket siren.
Israel triggered the November combating in Gaza by assassinating Baha Abu Al-Atta, an Islamic Jihad commander it accused of starting the launch against Ashdod.
While Netanyahu is widely anticipated to retain Likud’s leadership, he faces a tough fight ahead of a March general election in Israel – its third in a year, after he and his centrist competitor Benny Gantz didn’t secure majorities in two previous ballots.
Netanyahu’s standing has been scratched by an indictment on corruption charges that he declines.