AKIPRESS.COM - Israel and militants from Gaza resumed cross-border attacks on Friday, after a three-day truce expired and talks brokered by Egypt on a new border deal for the blockaded coastal territory hit a deadlock, Time reports.
It was not clear if the renewed fighting would derail the Cairo negotiations, which are aimed at reaching a sustainable truce, or whether the Egyptian mediators can find a way to prevent a further escalation and a return to full-out war.
Militants from Gaza fired first after the temporary truce expired at 8 am, launching 21 rockets toward Israel. Most landed in open fields, but two were intercepted over the coastal city of Ashkelon.
The Israeli military said it responded with strikes “across Gaza.”
In Gaza, police said Israel launched 10 airstrikes, with most of them hitting empty lands and farms but that seven people were hurt. Police also reported fire from Israeli tanks on northern Gaza and from Israeli gunboats at the central area of the strip.
The resumption of violence cast doubt over the Cairo negotiations.
Both Israel and Hamas are under international pressure to reach a deal. As part of such an arrangement, Israel wants to see Hamas disarmed or prevented from re-arming, while Hamas demands Gaza’s borders be opened. No progress was reported in all-night talks that ended before dawn Friday.
Hamas, which has seen its popularity boosted for confronting Israel, entered the Cairo talks from a point of military weakness after losing hundreds of fighters, two-thirds of its rockets arsenal and all of its attack tunnels.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev blamed Gaza militants for breaking the ceasefire.
“The ceasefire is over,” Regev said. “They did that.”
Also, in response to the rocket fire, the Israeli army said it was prohibiting gatherings of more than 1,000 people in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas within 80 km of the Gaza border.
The three-day truce came after a month of Israel-Hamas fighting, the third cross-border confrontation in just over five years.
Since then, Israeli strikes on Gaza killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians, wounded more than 9,000, devastated large areas along Gaza’s border with Israel and displaced tens of thousands of people.
Sixty-seven people, all but three of them soldiers, were killed on the Israeli side, and Gaza militants fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the past month.