News / Middle East

    Fighting Resumes as Gaza Truce Expires

    Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 8, 2014.
    Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 8, 2014.
    VOA News

    Israel pounded Gaza with a series of airstrikes Friday after Hamas resumed rocket attacks against Israel when talks broke down on extending a three-day truce.

    Smoke rose above Gaza as Israeli warplanes retaliated against dozens of rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, restarting a month-long conflict that has already left almost 2,000 people dead.  The latest fighting killed at least five Palestinians and injured two Israelis.

    Israel held its fire for about three hours, but military spokesman Peter Lerner later confirmed airstrikes were being carried out "against terrorist infrastructure" in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a "forceful" retaliation in response to the projectile launches.

    A 10-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and five others critically wounded in the shelling.

    Palestinian Naama Al Attar, 13, waits to collect water at a U.N. school in Gaza City on Aug. 8, 2014.Palestinian Naama Al Attar, 13, waits to collect water at a U.N. school in Gaza City on Aug. 8, 2014.
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    Palestinian Naama Al Attar, 13, waits to collect water at a U.N. school in Gaza City on Aug. 8, 2014.
    Palestinian Naama Al Attar, 13, waits to collect water at a U.N. school in Gaza City on Aug. 8, 2014.

    Israeli police said two people were injured by attacks from Gaza, Reuters reported.

    Government spokesman Mark Regev accused the Hamas-led fighters of indiscriminately targeting civilians.

    "Israel wanted to see this cease-fire succeed,” Regev said. “We redeployed all our forces out of the Gaza Strip. We ceased all offensive operations against the terrorists in Gaza and we took up purely defensive positions.

    "But Hamas this morning has opened fire on targets in Israel, on communities across the frontier."

    Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it failed to reach a deal to extend the cease-fire during indirect talks with Israeli in Cairo.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was deeply disappointed that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of a three-day break in the violence in their talks in Cairo.

    "The extension of the cease-fire is absolutely essential for talks to progress and to address the underlying issues of the crisis as soon as possible," Ban said in a statement.

    On Friday, the Islamist group said it would continue with negotiations there, along with other Palestinian factions.

    Gaza Conflict, death tolls, August 8, 2014Gaza Conflict, death tolls, August 8, 2014
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    Gaza Conflict, death tolls, August 8, 2014
    Gaza Conflict, death tolls, August 8, 2014

    "We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brother sin negotiating a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Fatah official Azzam Ahmed said, according to Reuters.

    "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza," continued Ahmed, who said Palestinians were scheduled to meet later Friday with Egyptian mediators. 

    The blockade has strangled the Gazan economy and kept Palestinians from leaving the coastal enclave.

    But Israel said it will not loosen the blockade until Hamas, which it views as a terrorist group, is disarmed.

    Israel had agreed to prolong the cease-fire but was not willing to continue negotiations once the attacks resumed. The Israeli delegation reportedly left Egypt shortly after Hamas resumed firing.

    Hamas' rejection of an extended cease-fire could further antagonize Egypt. As Reuters pointed out, Egpyt, already hostile to the militant group, controls the vital Rafah border crossing.   

    Death and devastation

    The cease-fire had ended four weeks of fighting that killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and devastated large sections of Gaza. Hamas on Thursday also "executed an unspecified number of Palestinians as Israeli spies," Reuters reported.

    Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians also were killed. Most of the Israeli casualties occurred during a ground invasion by Israeli troops to destroy Hamas' cross-border tunnels.

    Israel pulled out all of its soldiers from Gaza, saying all known tunnels have been destroyed, but many troops remain massed on the border.

    In the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, some families that had returned to their homes during the cease-fire were departing again for United Nations shelters, Reuters reported. 

    "Today I am fleeing again, back to displacement," Yamen Mahmoud, a 35-year-old father of four, told Reuters. "I am not against resistance, but we need to know what to do. Is it war or peace?"

    Humanitarian disaster

    Relief groups say Gaza faces a humanitarian disaster. Hospitals are overflowing with wounded. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed. And 250,000 of the seaside territory's 1.8 million residents have been displaced.

    Some wounded Gazans have been taken to Egypt and Jordan for treatment. Several dozen have been treated at a field hospital in Israel.

    Turkey has asked Israel and Egypt to allow an air bridge to transport wounded to Turkey.

    A convoy of relief supplies from Jordan reportedly arrived in Gaza Friday. Several Western and Arab governments have pledged millions of dollars in aid to Gaza, but its effects have yet to arrive on the ground.

    VOA Jerusalem bureau chief Scott Bobb contributed to this report, and some information comes from Reuters and AP.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Anonymous
    August 08, 2014 6:46 AM
    Those who sympathize with the palestinains, hamas should be in Isreals shoes.I have worked with arabs, these people always think they are right. They dont care about other peoples. I will call on anyone who thinks am saying more or less to study the "spirit of the arabs" they are trouble

    by: Laura McDonald from: UK
    August 08, 2014 6:32 AM
    well, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaida ISIL, Al Nusra... all of these disfiguring symptoms of the same islamic disease are what we need to understand as a "Global Jihad" against Europe. you are not going to be spared because you promote their cause... they will slaughter your children... It started with the "Danish Cartoons"... the slaughter of Theo Van Gogh in broad daylight - later to be repeated in Britain with the slaughter of Lee Rigby... than the senseless slaughter of the Jewish children in France... Europe said nothing... we were too afraid to make a comment... some of us even taken to defend the revolting conduct of Islamists in our communities as a "humanitarian cause"... and all this was aided and facilitated by the corruption of the UN to allow Islam to metastasize into Europe... expect to see it in our streets...
    In Response

    by: salam Kahil from: Canada
    August 08, 2014 11:12 AM
    rachel ravitz, please listen
    if you are Jewish the Christians will kill and if you are Christians you will the Jews again.
    Jesus came with a sword, wash your sin with blood and ..... all religions are bad and deceiving. religions are used to justify killing. religious want to defend God name, God all might should defend his/her name. people should leave God alone and live peacefully with each other.
    In Response

    by: Salam Kahil from: Canada
    August 08, 2014 10:19 AM
    that is "Christians" who killed over 6,000,000 Jewish people for no other reason but because they were Jewish.
    that is you "Christians" who used the propaganda " Fear " of the Jewish people were trying to control the world with their money and now you are using the "fear" technique against the Muslims by saying that they are trying to control the world.
    I am not in any way religious man and I don't practice any religion and I am, certainly defending the Muslims but read you history before you comment.
    In the WWI And WWII How many "Christians" were killed by "Christians" because of the "fear" of the German or the communists trying to control Europe. that happened not long ago, wake up, please

    In Response

    by: rachel ravitz
    August 08, 2014 10:18 AM
    You said it so well, Laura McDonald!
    "Several Western and Arab governments have pledged millions of dollars in aid to Gaza, but its effects have yet to arrive on the ground."
    This money will go to Hamas to fortify their weapons and support their jihadists.
    Comments page of 2
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