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Rocket fire from Gaza Photo: Reuters
Rocket fire from Gaza Photo: Reuters
 
 

Gaza militants breach ceasefire with rockets on Israel

Two hours before ceasefire set to end, and with parties still working in Cairo to extend lull, Gaza militants break truce, fire rockets at Israel; Hamas denies it was behind rocket fire.

Ilana Curiel
Latest Update: 08.14.14, 01:00 / Israel News

Rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza Strip Wednesday evening, two hours before a 72-hour ceasefire was set to expire at midnight and again after it was extended by another five days. Hamas denied it was behind the rocket fire, however two armed groups from Gaza claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

IDF forces have responded to rocket fire at Israel, and hit at least four targets in Gaza a number of minutes after midnight Wednesday, after the extended ceasefire came into effect.

 

 

A rocket from Gaza struck an open area in the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council at around 8 pm, the police said. No injuries were reported as a result of the attack. An hour and a half later, at roughly 10:40 pm, two rockets from Gaza struck open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council and one more was intercepted. No injuries were reported. 

 

According to both political and military sources, the prime and defense ministers have instructed the IDF to respond to any additional breach of the ceasefire by Hamas or Gaza militants. According to Palestinians in Gaza, the IAF hit a number of targets in Zituna and in the north-western part of the Strip.

 

Code red sirens were heard throughout the south Wednesday evening, including the area of Kiryat Gat and the Hof Ashkelon, Sha'ar Hanegev and Yoav regional councils, some two hours before the ceasefire was set to expire.

 

After a five day extention was announced, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two rockets hit open areas causing no damage or casualties and another was intercepted.

 

Palestinians reported hearing a blast in Gaza, indicating the possibility that one of the rockets failed to make its way into Israel. Hamas' spokesperson denied the group was beind the attack. Palestinians have reported that over the last hour, heavy Israeli drone presence was felt over Gaza's skies.

 

Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas "denies there was any rocket fire at the occupation this evening", referring to Israel.

 

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestiniane, have claimed responsiblity for the first round of rocket fire.

 

Meanwhile, one child was killed and two others were wounded when a rocket landed on their home in the town of el-Mattallah south of the Egytpian side of Rafah, near the border with Gaza, security and medical sources told Reuters on Wednesday. It was unclear whether there was any connection between the two events.

 

Sara Salama, 13, died while her brother Khaled, 8, and sister Rahaf, 2, sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital.

 

The news came as Israeli and Palestinian delegations' efforts extend the three-day-old ceasefire in Gaza seemed to have failed. Later, Egypt said that both Israel and Gaza factions agreed to extend the current ceasefire by another 120-hours.

 

A Hamas website reported that talks in Cairo had hit obstacles and Palestinian delegates were preparing to leave. But a source knowledgeable about the talks said earlier that though the sides were far apart, Egypt might try to get them to extend a truce for another 72 hours.

 

Head of the Palestinian delegation, Azzam al-Ahmed, said Wednesday that talks in Cairo have ended, but did not say if a deal had been reached. Meanwhile a Hamas source said negotiations have failed and that the Palestinian delegation will announce it is leaving. Israel has reportedly accepted the deal.

  

A source within the Palestinian delegation confirmed that the Israeli delegation has left and since landed back in Israel, but said that "last minute efforts are still underway."

 

The Palestinian delegation was expected to hold a press conference at 9:30 pm (local time) and announce the results of negotiations, but the conference has since been postponed.

 

Only Sunday morning, before the ceasefire came into effect, six rockets hit Israel's south, contributing to growing anger in Israel at the government and IDF who told residents they could return last Thursday, under the assumption the ceasefire would hold.

 

Responding to criticism that Israel was quick the declare an end to the fighting and told citizens it can return to the south, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said "We will not compromise until rocket fire and terror completely stop. We see the overarching political and military picture and will not finish the operation until quiet and security are returned to Israel's citizens."

 

Elior Levy, Attila Somfalvi, Roi Kais and Reuters contributed to this report

 

First Published: 08.13.14, 21:52

 

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