TEL AVIV, August 8 (RIA Novosti) – Hamas militants have renewed rocket fire into Israel after three-day ceasefire ended in the Gaza Strip on Friday.
At 8:00 a.m. (05:00 GMT) rocket-warning sirens sounded in Israel’s southern city of Ashkelon and villages along the border with the Gaza Strip.
“More than 10 rockets were fired on Israel. At least one was intercepted above Ashkelon, while the others hit open areas in southern part of the country,” the Israel Defense Forces reported. Two more rockets were launched at night, hours before the end of the ceasefire, according to the Israeli military.
The Voice of Palestine radio station reported that thousands of Palestinians are leaving their homes in the border areas to return to shelters set up in schools by the UN.
“The ceasefire is over. Palestinian factions haven’t agreed to extend it but negotiations are still underway,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Hamas says it refused to extend the 72-hour ceasefire because Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo on a new border deal for the coastal strip hit a deadlock. The Palestinians wanted Israel to agree to demands that include the lifting of a blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“We are ready to start the battle again and wage war of attrition for many months,” a representative from the militant wing of Hamas said.
On July 8, Israel launched a military operation in the Gaza Strip, known as Operation Protective Edge, aiming to combat Hamas and other rival Palestinian forces. The operation involved air raids and a ground offensive. An Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas started Tuesday morning was the longest lull in the fighting since the beginning of the conflict. Israeli troops are reported to have significantly withdrawn from Gaza.
The operation resulted in the deaths of at least 1,800 Palestinians, most of them civilians, 64 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and one Thai national.