Israel air strikes resume in Gaza amid rockets

Israel says it has resumed air strikes in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired rockets following the end of a three-day truce on Friday morning.

The Israeli army called the renewed rocket attacks “unacceptable, intolerable and short-sighted”.

Palestinian militant group Hamas, which dominates Gaza, earlier rejected any extension of the truce, saying Israel had failed to meet its demands.

Some 1,940 lives have been claimed in four weeks of fighting in Gaza.

Israeli government officials say they have pulled out of Egyptian-brokered negotiations with Hamas and Palestinian factions, stressing they will not “negotiate under fire”.

At the scene: Wyre Davies, Kerem Shalom in southern Israel

The border area didn’t feel particularly safe this morning, and several Kibuttzim were still virtual ghost towns as more than 36 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza.

But that, perhaps, is part of the Hamas strategy. They don’t want Israelis to feel safe or comfortable as long as the blockade of Gaza continues.

While Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants live, penned in, barely able to make a living – so the argument goes – why should Israelis just across the fence feel any more secure?

Terror sites’

On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a fresh offensive with air craft, tanks and gunboats in Gaza.

A 12-year-old boy was killed in a strike near a mosque in Gaza City, Palestinian officials told the BBC.

The IDF earlier announced it was striking “terror sites across the Gaza Strip” in response to renewed rocket fire.

Militants began firing missiles from Gaza shortly before the ceasefire ended at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

The IDF said more than 33 rockets and mortars had been launched at Israel on Friday.

The military added that its Iron Dome anti-missile shield had intercepted three rockets, while the remaining ones fell on open ground.

Two Israelis were wounded in the attacks, according to health officials.

The violence resumed after talks between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Egyptian capital Cairo hit a deadlock.

Negotiators were working against the clock on Thursday to persuade the two sides to extend the 72-hour ceasefire and agree a long-term deal.

But Hamas said Israel had failed to meet its key demands, including the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, the release of prisoners and the end of the Israeli offensive.

The group also rejected Israel’s call for the demilitarisation of Gaza. A Hamas spokesman warned his organisation was ready for “a long war”.

However, the group said Palestinian factions were willing to continue the talks despite the fresh clashes.

But Israeli government officials said their delegation had left Cairo earlier on Friday.

“Hamas is now continuing to fire towards Israeli civilians, while Israel fully respected the ceasefire and announced it is ready to extend it,” a senior official told the BBC.

At least 1,890 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died, according to latest United Nations figures.

Israel’s government says 64 soldiers have been killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai national. It also claims that about 900 Palestinian militants have died in the violence.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and destroying the network of tunnels it said were used by militants to launch attacks inside Israel.

On Thursday, the human rights group Amnesty International called for an investigation into what it said was mounting evidence that Israeli forces had deliberately attacked hospitals and health professionals in Gaza. The attacks have left at least six medics dead.




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