Friday, August 8, 2014

Israel/Gaza: Hamas Renews Attacks on Israel, Tel Aviv Refuses to Return to Peace As Incoming Continue

According to Reuters, Israel launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday (August 8) in response to Palestinian rockets fired after Egyptian-mediated talks failed to extend a 72-hour truce in the month-long war.

As rocket-warning sirens activated in southern Israel, the military said Hamas had fired at least 18 rockets from Gaza and Israel's "Iron Dome" interceptor system brought down two. Gaza militants said they had fired 10 rockets on Friday.

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. In Israel, police said two people were injured by mortar fire from Gaza. 

"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.

An Israeli government official said Israel would not negotiate with Palestinians about renewing the truce in Gaza as long as militants continued to launch rockets.

COMMENT: 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 extend a ceasefire at talks in Cairo failed.

The Palestinians had wanted Israel to agree in principle to demands which include a lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the release of prisoners and the opening of a sea port.

Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, speaking on Army Radio, raised the prospect of Israel relaunching a ground operation it halted on Tuesday and "taking control of the Gaza Strip in order to topple the Hamas regime."

Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,876 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Hamas said on Thursday it had executed an unspecified number of Palestinians as Israeli spies. 

Hamas' 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.

Palestinian negotiators from factions including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah left their luxury hotel for talks with Egyptian intelligence at 2130 hours on Thursday (August 7), returning more than six and a half hours later looking subdued and saying no deal had yet been reached.

A source in Cairo said the Israeli delegation left shortly before the truce expired.