Tags: Israel | Hamas | Gaza

Israel Responds as Hamas Fires Rockets Minutes After End of Truce

Image: Israel Responds as Hamas Fires Rockets Minutes After End of Truce Smoke rises over the Gaza Strip after an Israeli airstrike on Aug. 8. (Jim Hollander/EPA/Landov)

Friday, 08 Aug 2014 09:25 AM

 

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GAZA CITY — Gaza militants resumed rocket attacks on Israel on Friday, 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.

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 Israel will not negotiate under fire.

Hamas wants Israel to open Gaza's borders, following a seven-year closure also enforced by Egypt, but Israel says it will only do so if the Islamic militants disarm or are prevented from re-arming. Hamas has insisted it will never give up its arms.

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 military attack tunnels under the border with Israel.

With nothing to show for in the negotiations, Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel within minutes after the temporary truce expired at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) Friday.

By midday, 33 rockets had been fired. Twenty-six landed in Israel, three were intercepted and four fell short in Gaza, the army said.

Israel said it will not negotiate under such terms.

"When Hamas broke the cease-fire, when Hamas launched rockets and mortar shells at Israel, they broke the premise of the talks," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, adding that "there will not be negotiations under fire."

The Israeli delegation to the Cairo talks left Egypt on Friday morning, and it was not clear if it would return.

Israel eventually responded to the rockets with what the military said were strikes "across Gaza," without elaborating.

The military announced that authorities are prohibiting gatherings of more than 1,000 people in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the Gaza border because of the rocket fire.

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, and have since enforced it to varying degrees.

Israel argues that it needs to keep Gaza's borders under a blockade as long as Hamas tries to smuggle weapons into Gaza or manufactures them there.

The militant group has said it is willing to hand over some power in Gaza to enable its long-time rival, Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to lead reconstruction efforts, but that it would not give up its arsenal and control over thousands of armed men.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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