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The Shin Bet security service found an unexploded Palestinian Qassam rocket on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ranch in the southern Negev desert yesterday.

It is the third time a Qassam has landed within the ranch's boundaries.

The rocket was found in a field near the grave of Sharon's deceased wife Lily, a few hundred meters from Sharon's home. The ranch is about nine kilometers from the town of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israel Defense Forces officials believe the rocket was launched by Hamas members in the Gaza Strip during shelling of the nearby town of Sderot and the western Negev about three weeks ago.

The Shin Bet's Protective Security department has planned for the possible dangers to Sharon from Qassam fire, and the security service has taken steps to defend the ranch against the rockets.

Palestinian organizations have in the past expressed their desire to hit the prime minister's Negev home. However, the Qassam is an inaccurate weapon, and it appears they have difficulty in deliberately striking the ranch.