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Cease-fire in Gaza ends

Sat., Aug. 9, 2014

Israel rejects more talks until rocket attacks stop

JERUSALEM – Egypt urged Israel and Hamas to halt hostilities in the Gaza Strip after fighting resumed there Friday as a 72-hour cease-fire expired without agreement on extending the lull.

Militants fired rockets at Israel, which responded with airstrikes, after indirect truce negotiations in Cairo mediated by Egypt reached a deadlock after night-long talks.

The return to hostilities appeared to be measured, however. Responsibility for the rocket fire was not claimed by Hamas but by other militant factions, and many of the Israeli strikes hit open areas, according to police in Gaza.

Five Palestinians were reported killed, and two Israelis were injured by a rocket strike.

Hamas had said earlier that it would not renew the temporary cease-fire unless it obtained agreement in principle to its demands to lift a blockade on the Gaza Strip and enable the opening of a seaport there.

Israel had informed Egypt that it was prepared to extend the cease-fire for an additional 72 hours, said an Israeli official who, under Israeli rules, cannot be identified.

But Hamas officials said Israeli negotiators rejected their terms for a broader truce. Those include lifting Israeli and Egyptian border closures imposed on the Gaza Strip, opening a seaport and airport, removing fishing limits off the Gaza coast, and allowing access to areas near Gaza’s border with Israel that have been declared no-go zones.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that although Israel had rejected the group’s demands, “we did not close the door and will continue with the negotiations.”

However, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “There will not be negotiations under fire.”

The Israeli army said that since the expiration of the cease-fire at 8 a.m. Friday, 57 rockets and mortar rounds had been fired at Israel, injuring two people. One rocket hit a house in the southern town of Sderot, and two were intercepted near the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, the military said.

The renewed Israeli strikes in Gaza killed a 10-year-old boy and wounded five others near a mosque in Gaza City, local health officials said, and three other people were reported killed near the town of Khan Yunis.

The renewed fighting in Gaza sparked fresh protests Friday in the West Bank, and a Palestinian was killed in a confrontation with Israeli forces near Ramallah, medical officials said. The army said that near the Israeli settlement of Psagot, dozens of Palestinians hurled stones at troops, and when they reached the settlement fence, soldiers used live ammunition to repel them.

In the city of Hebron, a stronghold of Hamas support, hundreds marched in support of Palestinians in Gaza, and dozens were reported injured in clashes with Israeli troops. The army said it used riot-control weapons and live ammunition to repel the protesters.