At least 69 Israeli soldiers have been injured, some seriously, in a rocket attack on a military training base, an Israeli Army spokesman said on Tuesday.
The Qassam rocket, launched by Palestinian militants, exploded early on Tuesday morning in the centre of the Zikim training base, located close to border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. <b1>
According to the spokesman, the early warning rocket system functioned properly, but many soldiers failed to reach a bomb shelter in time.
One soldier was in a critical condition, and four sustained serious injuries. Many of the soldiers were reportedly treated for shock.
The Palestinian groups, the Popular Resistance Committee and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, local media reported.
Although Hamas did not participate in the attack, it congratulated the Palestinian people on a "victory from god".
"Of course, we welcome the attack. We consider it a worthy answer to the crimes of the occupants," said a Hamas spokesman.
A spokesman for Islamic Jihad said, "The jihad continues - we have one language, the language of guns and rockets."
In Israel, ground forces attacked the area from where the rocket was launched, injuring four Palestinian civilians.
Israel is to discuss its wider response to the attack in a special meeting of the Security Cabinet on Tuesday, local radio reported.