Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli
air strike in Gaza City. Photo by Reuters
Israel has launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip in
response to Palestinian rockets after Egyptian-mediated talks
failed to extend a 72-hour truce in a month-long war.
Egypt later called for a resumption of the ceasefire, saying
only a few points remained to be agreed. Palestinian factions
said they would meet Egyptian mediators later in the day but
there was no sign of any imminent deal.
An Israeli government official said Israel would not
negotiate with Palestinians while militants continued to
As warning sirens sounded in southern Israel, the military
said "Gaza terrorists" had fired more than 45 rockets on
Friday morning (local time) and the "Iron Dome" interceptor
system had brought down two.
Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed
responsibility for the salvoes from the Hamas-dominated
Accusing Hamas of breaking the ceasefire, Israel said several
of the rockets had been launched about four hours before the
truce was due to end at 8am. Heavier barrages followed
shortly after the ceasefire period expired.
By resuming the attacks, Gaza militants appeared to be trying
to put pressure on Israel, making clear they were ready to
fight on to end a blockade of the coastal territory that both
Israel and neighbouring Egypt have imposed.
In the first casualties since hostilities resumed on Friday,
Palestinian medical officials said a 10-year-old boy was
killed in an Israeli strike near a mosque in Gaza City. An
Islamic Jihad militant and three other Palestinians were
killed in attacks from the air in the southern Gaza Strip.
In Israel, police said two people were injured by mortar fire
After a huge explosion in Gaza City, apparently from an air
raid, a military spokesman said Israel had responded to Hamas
rocket fire by launching air strikes at "terror sites" across
the Gaza Strip.
"We will continue to strike Hamas, its infrastructure, its
operatives, and restore security for the State of Israel,"
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said in a statement.
Heavy civilian casualties and destruction during Israel's
campaign against militants in packed residential areas of the
Gaza Strip have raised international alarm over the past
month, but efforts to prolong a ceasefire at talks in Cairo
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement he was
deeply disappointed an extension of the ceasefire could not
be agreed, and he condemned the renewed rocket fire at
"The Secretary-General firmly calls on the parties not to
resort to further military action that can only exacerbate
the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza," it
Israel had earlier said it was ready to agree to an extension
as Egyptian go-betweens pursued negotiations with Israeli and
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel had rejected most
Palestinian demands. "However, we did not close the door and
will continue with the negotiations," he said.
His comments came in response to a statement from the
Egyptian foreign ministry, which indirectly blamed the
Palestinians for refusing to end the truce. Egypt said an
agreement had been reached on the major issues of concern to
the Palestinian people and only a few sticking points
The Palestinians had wanted Israel to agree in principle to
demands which include lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip,
the release of prisoners and the opening of a sea port, but
this had been rebuffed, Abu Zuhri said.
Israel has shown little interest in easing its naval blockade
of Gaza and controls on overland traffic and airspace,
suspecting Hamas could restock with weapons from abroad.
In Cairo, the foreign ministry called on both sides "to
return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit
the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very
limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible
In Gaza, some families who had returned to their homes in the
northern town of Beit Hanoun during the ceasefire gathered
their belongings and headed back to the United Nations
shelters where they had sought refuge over the past few
Beit Hanoun resident Yamen Mahmoud, a 35-year-old father of
four, said: "Today I am fleeing again. I am not against
resistance but we need to know what to do. Is it war or
Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,880 Palestinians,
most of them civilians. Hamas said on Thursday it had
executed an unspecified number of Palestinians as Israeli
Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have died
in the fighting that began on July 8, after a surge in
Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel.
It expanded its air and naval bombardment of the Gaza Strip
into a ground offensive on July 17, and pulled its infantry
and armour out of the enclave on Tuesday after saying it had
destroyed more than 30 infiltration tunnels dug by militants.
Hamas's refusal to extend the ceasefire could further
alienate Egypt, whose government has been hostile to the
group and which ultimately controls Gaza's main gateway to
the world, the Rafah border crossing.
A source at Cairo airport said the Israeli delegation left
shortly before the truce expired.
"Officially, we have not heard an Israeli response. The
brothers in Egypt presented a paper and they did not say it
came from Israel at all," senior Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed,
who heads the Palestinian negotiating team, told Palestine
"We really need to hear responses so we can determine our
next steps and we hope these responses will be positive," he
said. "Enough wasting time."