Hamas leader says rocket that hit Israeli house fired in error

Gaza City:Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said Tuesday the rocket from Gaza that hit a house in Israel last week launched due to a technical error, his first official statement on the strike.

The rocket that was fired from the Gaza Strip on March 25 destroyed a house north of Tel and injured seven Israelis.

Israel responded by striking a series of Hamas targets in the Palestinian enclave, including flattening Haniya’s office, before Egypt brokered a ceasefire that prevented a full conflict.

In his comments on Tuesday, Haniya said the rocket was “due to a technical defect, but was a mini demonstration if (Israel) thought to commit folly against the Palestinian people.”

The statement from his office said he made the remarks during a meeting with political analysts.

He did not provide further details on what type of technical defect could have caused the launch.

Previously only unnamed officials from Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, have said the rocket was fired due to a technical error.

Following the latest ceasefire, Hamas said Egypt had brokered a truce that would see Israel ease its crippling blockade of the enclave in exchange for calm.

Israel has not publicly commented on the reported agreement.

On Monday, Israel expanded the fishing zone around Gaza, increasing it in one area to the largest distance in years, in what Hamas officials said was the first step.

An Egyptian security delegation visited Gaza late Monday and met with Hamas.

Haniya said the delegation brought a timetable from the Israeli side for implementing the agreements.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the middle of a gruelling election campaign and faces a strong challenge from centrist former military chief Benny Gantz.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.