Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel for a second day on Wednesday after fighting resumed with the collapse of truce talks and an Israeli air strike that killed three people in Gaza.
Charging 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.
Palestinian health officials said the strike on a house in Gaza City killed three people but did not provide any details about the third victim.
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.
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.
There were no reported casualties, but falling shrapnel damaged a car in Tel Aviv, and a building was damaged in southern Israel. Some of the rockets were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor.
The violence shattered a 10-day period of calm since a first truce brokered by Egypt, about a month after the conflict flared on July 8.
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 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 …continued »