Qassam hits Israel after Russia urges Hamas to stop rocket fire
Russia to Hamas: Rocket fire against Israel must stop; Meshal: Hamas wants to maintain Gaza calm.
A Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian militants on Thursday hit an open area along the coast of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported.
The rocket struck Israel just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal this week to stop militants in the Gaza Strip from firing rockets against Israel.
The foreign minister made his request on Wednesday in a telephone meeting, which according to Russian news agencies covered a variety of issues regarding the Middle East.
Lavrov told Meshal that the recent increase in rocket fire was unacceptable. Meshal responded to the call by reiterating Hamas' declared stance that it was not interested in an escalation of tensions with Israel and would continue to try to maintain calm in the area.
Lavrov briefed Meshal during their conversation about last week's meeting of the Quartet Middle East peace-brokers in Geneva, which comprises Russia, the EU, the United Nations and the United States.
The Russian foreign minister also stressed to Meshal the importance with which he viewed a reconciliation between Hamas and its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah.