Hamas militants fire rockets at Israel as truce collapses

Hamas militants fire rockets at Israel as truce collapses

PanARMENIAN.Net - Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel for a second day on Wednesday, Aug 20, after fighting resumed with the collapse of truce talks and an Israeli air strike that killed three people in Gaza, according to Reuters.

Charging that Israel had "opened a gateway to hell", Hamas's armed wing vowed to target Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport with rocket fire, possibly to retaliate for what Hamas was quoted by Israeli media as saying was an Israeli attempt to assassinate its top militant leader, Mohammed Deif, in a Gaza City strike.

It was not clear whether Deif, who has survived previous Israeli attacks, had survived the strike that killed a woman and a two-year-old girl who media reports said may have been his wife and daughter.

Deif has topped Israel's wanted lists for years, as mastermind of deadly suicide bombings more than a decade ago. He is currently believed to be a behind-the-scenes leader of Hamas's campaign against Israel.

The Israeli military would not specify any of the targets of some 30 attacks across Gaza it said was in response to rocket fire aimed at Israel.

Another air strike launched later on Wednesday morning killed seven members of a family in central Gaza, among them a woman and three children, Palestinian health officials said. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

In addition to the deaths, more than 50 people were wounded in the air strikes across Gaza, ordered after rockets were fired at Israel. Hamas initially denied firing any rockets, then claimed responsibility for shooting dozens as far as the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas.

Accusing Gaza Islamists of breaking the truce with rocket fire eight hours before it was to have expired, Israel recalled its negotiators from truce talks in Cairo on Tuesday, leaving the fate of the Egyptian-brokered efforts to secure a lasting peace hanging in the balance.

Palestinian negotiators walked out of the talks later, blaming Israel for their failure. "Israel thwarted the contacts that could have brought peace," chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed said.

Rejecting the charge, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Gaza rocketfire "made continuation of talks impossible".

"The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the ceasefire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based," Reuters quoted Regev as saying.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says some 2,026 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the small, densely populated coastal territory since fighting started on July 8. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have also been killed during the offensive, which the Jewish state launched with the stated aim of halting militant fire.

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