By AMY TEIBEL
JERUSALEM (AP) - Two rockets fired by Palestinian militants struck southern Israel on Sunday, Israel's military said, violating an informal truce even as Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers appeared to hurry closer to a long-term cease-fire deal two days before Israeli elections.
The Gaza Strip's strongman was in Syria, consulting with his Hamas bosses about the truce talks, while Israel's defense minister warned Israelis they would have to pay a painful price as part of any deal. The flurry of activity came just two days before Israelis elect a new government expected to take a harder line in talks with the Palestinians.
Israel unilaterally ended a blistering, three-week offensive in Gaza, meant to halt years of rocket fire on southern Israeli communities, last month. Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed, according to Gaza health officials, and the government said 13 Israelis also died. Vast areas of Gaza were destroyed or heavily damaged. Hamas announced its own cease-fire the same day.
While Egypt has been trying to broker a long-term cease-fire, sporadic violence has persisted. In separate attacks, Palestinian rockets exploded in the Nir Am communal farm and the southern city of Ashkelon. No injuries were reported, though cars and buildings were damaged, authorities said.
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