Israel, Hamas Resume Fire After Three-Day Gaza Truce
Explosions and gunfire resounded in Gaza today after a 72-hour ceasefire ended with Israel bombarding the coastal strip, killing a 10-year-old boy in retaliation to a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas, as talks in Cairo for a durable truce virtually collapsed.
Gaza-based militants fired first after the temporary truce expired at 8 am (local time), launching 21 rockets toward Israel and marking the resumption of the month-long devastating conflict that has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians and 67 people in Israel, including 64 soldiers.
The IDF said, in total, more than 36 rockets were fired at Israel today. The military said its Iron Dome anti-missile shield had intercepted three rockets, while the remaining ones fell on open ground.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military to retaliate after the rocket attacks.
"The Israeli prime minister and defence minister have ordered the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) to retaliate forcefully to the Hamas breach of the ceasefire," an official said in a statement.
Thousands of Palestinians who had returned to their houses again took refuge at UN shelters.
"The moment it dawned upon people this morning that there was no chance of a long-term ceasefire agreement they started leaving their houses, especially in the eastern part of Gaza. Some of them whose houses had been destroyed in bombings earlier and had pitched tents also returned to our facilities," a UN worker in Gaza told PTI.
IDF retaliated strongly to rocket fire by Gaza militants calling the unprovoked attacks "unacceptable, intolerable and short-sighted".
Israeli jets struck multiple targets across the Gaza Strip, following the barrage of rocket attacks in which two people, including a soldier, were injured.
A ten-year old Palestinian boy was killed and five others injured in an Israeli air strike on a mosque in the Sheikh al-Radwan neighbourhood of Gaza City. Six other Palestinians were injured across Gaza.
UN figures indicate that 73 per cent of the 1,890 Palestinian victims, or 1,354 people, were civilians. At least 429 of those civilians were children, it said.
Fire from Israeli tanks and gunboats was also reported from northern and central Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israel pulled out of talks in Cairo, officials and medics said.
"Israel will not negotiate under fire," an official said.
The Israeli delegation arrived back from Egypt about an hour before the cease-fire ended, Israeli officials said.
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.
Hamas also rejected Israel's call for the demilitarisation of Gaza. A Hamas spokesman said his organisation was ready for "a long war".
Israel had informed Egypt of its willingness to extend the truce by another three days before "Hamas breached the ceasefire".
There were also reports of shelling in northern Gaza by Israeli naval forces.
Israel has rubbished claims about civilian casualties saying that about 900 Palestinian militants were killed and blamed the militant factions for the civilian deaths, arguing that innocent people were being used by them as "human shield".
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and later added destroying the network of tunnels which it said were being used by militants among its major obectives.
Two militant factions -- Islamic Jihad and the Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades -- who have fought alongside Hamas in Gaza under the banner of "the resistance" said they had fired rockets at Israel today.
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