Sunday, Sep 21, 2014

Israel, Hamas resume rocket fire after five-hour temporary ceasefire ends

gaza-m Israeli strikes have killed more than 230 Palestinians, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said. (Source: AP)
Associated Press | Gaza Strip | Posted: July 17, 2014 8:33 pm | Updated: July 17, 2014 9:27 pm

Gaza residents rushed to banks, vegetable markets and shops Thursday during a first U.N.-brokered lull in 10 days of Israel-Hamas fighting, but a quick resumption in hostilities after it ended signaled that a permanent truce remains elusive.

Hamas fired 10 rockets at Israel after the end of the temporary truce, while Israel launched two airstrikes at the Gaza Strip, security officials said.

Egypt persisted with diplomatic efforts to bring all sides to the table Thursday, with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after Egyptian officials met separately with representatives of Israel and Hamas in Cairo. But the gaps remain wide.

Israel accepted Egypt’s call earlier this week to halt all fighting, but Hamas rejected the idea because it first wants to lock in achievements, such as easing the seven-year blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.

Strict Egyptian access restrictions to Gaza over the past year, combined with long-running Israeli closures, severely weakened the Islamic militant group.

During the humanitarian cease-fire, Gaza residents rushed to restock supplies after more than a week of being mostly holed up at home for fear of airstrikes.

“The situation is likely to get worse because there is no clear way out of it,” said Moussa Amran, 43, a money changer in central Gaza City.

The city’s streets returned to normalcy during the lull, with traffic jams, motorists honking horns and Hamas police directing traffic at busy intersections.

Hundreds lined up outside banks, with people jostling and shouting to get to ATM machines. In an outdoor market, shoppers filled plastic bags with fruit, vegetables and freshly slaughtered chickens.

Abdallah Jaber, 42, seized the opportunity to visit his 87-year-old father, Hosni, in a care facility for the elderly and disabled close to the Israeli border, in an area that has been targeted repeatedly by the Israeli army as a launching area for rockets.

Several tank shells hit the upper floors of the five-story Wafa rehabilitation center last week, punching large holes into the wall facing the border.

Israel has demanded that the building be evacuated, but director Basman Ashi said such a trip was too risky for his 17 patients, many of them unable to walk.

Jaber said he couldn’t reach the center during 10 days of fighting and was worried about his father, who is on a respirator and suffers from dementia. “We would call every hour to get an update on his condition,” he said.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 230 Palestinians, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said. One Israeli has been killed and several wounded in rocket attacks, officials said.

Since July 8, Israel carried out nearly 2,000 airstrikes, while Hamas fired more than 1,300 rockets, reaching Israel’s economic and cultural heartland.

In Cairo, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri insisted in an interview with The Associated Press that the cease-fire deal was still alive and expressed frustration that “Palestinian factions” — a clear reference continued…

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