Israel, Hamas resume fighting
GAZA, Gaza Strip—Gaza militants resumed rocket attacks on Israel today—refusing to extend a three-day truce after Egyptian-brokered talks between Israel and Hamas on a new border deal for blockaded Gaza hit a deadlock.
Israel responded with a series of airstrikes, including one that killed a 10-year-old boy and wounded five children near a Gaza City mosque, Palestinian officials said.
The renewed violence threw the Cairo talks on a broader deal into doubt.
Hamas officials said they are ready to continue talks but Israel’s government spokesman said his country will not negotiate under fire.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry expressed “extreme regret” over the failure to extend the truce, urged restraint by both sides, and called for a new ceasefire to resume negotiations.
The ministry said progress had been made in the talks, but did not explain.
Hamas wants Israel to open Gaza’s borders, following a seven-year closure also enforced by Egypt, but Israel says it only will do so if the Islamic militants disarm or are prevented from re-arming.
Hamas has insisted it will never give up its weapons.
The wide gaps became clear at an all-night meeting between Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators that preceded the renewed fire.
Hamas negotiators told The Associated Press that Israel rejected all of their demands.
Hamas had entered the Cairo talks from a position of military weakness, following a month of fighting in which Israel pounded Gaza with close to 5,000 strikes.
Israel has said Hamas lost hundreds of fighters, two-thirds of its rocket arsenal, and all of its tunnels under the border with Israel.
The heavy toll of the war appears to have made Hamas even more resistant to returning to the status quo.
The group is unlikely to accept a ceasefire without assurances that Gaza’s borders will be opened—particularly after the fighting left close to 1,900 Gaza residents dead, more than 9,000 wounded, and tens of thousands displaced, with entire neighbourhoods reduced to rubble.
Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel even before the temporary truce expired at 8 a.m. today.
By midday, 33 rockets had been fired. Twenty-six landed in Israel, three were intercepted, and four fell short in Gaza, the army said.
The rockets appeared to have been an attempt by Hamas to exert pressure on Israel without triggering a major escalation.