THE WORLDPOST
08/09/2014 02:19 am ET Updated Oct 09, 2014

Israel-Gaza Violence Resumes, Defying Ceasefire Efforts

ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Allyn Fisher-Ilan

GAZA/JERUSALEM, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Israel launched more than 30 aerial attacks in Gaza on Saturday, killing five Palestinians, and militants fired rockets at Israel as the conflict entered a second month, defying international efforts to negotiate an agreement for an extended ceasefire.

The violence seemed to delay any progress in talks brokered by Egypt aimed at securing another truce. Israel had no plans to send negotiators back to Cairo "as long as the shooting goes on", an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.

Medical officials in Gaza said two Palestinians were killed when their motorcycle was bombed and the bodies of three others were found beneath the rubble of one of three bombed mosques.

Another attack reduced a security complex belonging to Gaza's dominant Hamas faction to a huge cloud of smoke, but there were no casualties. In other attacks, three houses were bombed, and fighter planes strafed open areas, medical officials said.

The Israeli military said that since midnight it had attacked more than 30 sites in the coastal enclave, without specifying the targets.

Gaza militants fired 15 rockets at towns in Israel's south on Saturday setting off alarm sirens but causing no damage or injuries, a military spokeswoman said.

Since the end of a 72-hour truce on Friday, Gaza militants have fired more than 65 rockets at Israel, military officials said. Two Israelis were hurt by a mortar attack on Friday.

Israeli air strikes killed five Palestinians on Friday, among them a 10-year-old boy near a mosque in Gaza City.

Egypt, backed by American and European mediators, has made no visible progress toward resuming the ceasefire that had halted fighting for three days between Israel and Gaza militants that began on July 8.

Egypt was expected to pursue its diplomacy on Saturday, meeting Palestinian officials in Cairo, but it wasn't clear how much progress could be made if Israeli representatives didn't show up.

Both sides remain apart on terms for renewing the ceasefire, with each blaming the other for refusing to extend it.

A diplomatic source familiar with the talks told Reuters it could take at least two days to see if it was possible to work out another truce. A sticking point was Israel's demand for guarantees that any reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza would not be used by Hamas to construct more tunnels of the sort that Palestinian fighters have used to infiltrate Israel.

Egypt is mediating the talks but meeting separately with each party. Israel and Hamas deny each other's legitimacy, with Hamas rejecting Israel's right to exist and Israel rejecting Hamas as a terrorist organization.

VIOLENCE THWARTS ANTI-WAR PROTEST PLANS

Citing security concerns over continued rocket fire, Israeli police banned an anti-war protest planned for Tel Aviv on Saturday, saying regulations prohibited large gatherings in areas at risk of attack.

By resuming attacks against Israel, Gaza militants appeared to be trying to ramp up pressure and making it clear they were ready to fight on to fulfill a goal of ending a blockade of the territory that both Israel and Egypt have imposed.

Heavy civilian casualties and destruction during Israel's campaign against militants in packed residential areas of the Gaza Strip have raised international alarm over the past month.

Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,886 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have died in the fighting that followed a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel.

Israel expanded its air and naval bombardment of the Gaza Strip into a ground offensive on July 17, and pulled its infantry and armor out of the enclave on Tuesday after saying it had destroyed more than 30 infiltration tunnels dug by militants.

The White House urged Israel and the Palestinians to do what they could to preserve civilians after having failed to extend their ceasefire. Spokesman John Earnest said on Friday "the United States is very concerned" about the renewed violence.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the parties "not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza".

At a rally in South Africa, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu accused Israel of behaving like a "barbaric bully" in Gaza.

Israel said ahead of the truce's expiration on Friday it was ready to agree to an extension. Hamas did not agree.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel had rejected most of the group's demands. The Palestinians want Israel to agree in principle to lift a Gaza blockade, release prisoners and permit the opening of a sea port.

"There is no going back and the resistance will continue ... there is no retreat from any of our demands," Abu Zuhri said.

Israel has resisted easing access to Gaza, suspecting Hamas could restock with weapons from abroad.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, said the issue of a sea port should be part of wider peace negotiations with the Palestinians and that Hamas should not at this time be rewarded for "using force against Israeli citizens".

In related violence, a Palestinian man died a day after being shot by Israeli troops quelling a protest in Hebron. Israeli gunfire killed another Palestinian protester in the West Bank, medical officials said.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Giles Elgood)

08/08/2014 2:47 PM EDT

White House Concerned By Renewed Fighting

From Reuters:

The White House on Friday urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks and do what they can to protect civilians after Egyptian-mediated negotiations failed to extend a ceasefire and rocket fire resumed.

"The United States is very concerned about today's developments in Gaza," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

"We condemn the renewed rocket fire and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of that conflict," he said.

08/08/2014 1:42 PM EDT

Official: 5 Palestinians Killed In Gaza

Five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since a ceasefire fell apart on Friday, a Palestinian medical official reported to Agence France Presse.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired 35 rockets into Israel on Friday, injuring a soldier and a civilian.

gaza

The father of a ten-year old Palestinian boy, who was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, mourns at the city's Al-Shifa hospital, on August 8, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

08/08/2014 9:23 AM EDT

Palestinian Delegation Says Gaza Talks Will Continue

From Reuters:

Palestinian factions will remain in Cairo and press on with Egyptian-mediated talks despite the end of the ceasefire in Gaza, the head of the delegation, Fatah official Azzam Ahmed, said on Friday.

"We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brothers in negotiating to reach a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Ahmed said. "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza."

Ahmed said Palestinian negotiators were due to meet Egyptian intelligence officials, who have been mediating the talks, later in the day. He said Palestinian factions were united in their decision not to extend the 72-hour truce that ended at 0500 GMT and had been clear about their basic demands to end the conflict.

08/08/2014 9:13 AM EDT

Egypt: Agreement Close In Gaza Talks

Reuters reports:

Egypt called on Friday for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to the negotiating table, saying that only a few outstanding issues remained in negotiations it was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities ... and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

08/08/2014 3:58 AM EDT

Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Resume

08/08/2014 3:02 AM EDT

Cease-Fire Ends With New Rocket Attacks

A 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. today, and not long after, Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel, The Associated Press reported.

The Israeli military said at least 10 rockets had been fired at Israel since the truce ended. Prior to the attacks, a senior official for Hamas said the militant groups would not extend the cease-fire.

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08/06/2014 2:46 PM EDT

Official: Israel Agrees To Extend Ceasefire

From Reuters:

Israel has conditionally agreed to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond a Friday deadline, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official did not say for how much longer Israel had agreed to extend the truce, only that: "Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms," referring to the deal brokered by Egypt that took effect on Tuesday.

Hamas had no immediate comment.

08/06/2014 2:12 PM EDT

IDF: Rocket Sirens Were False Alarm

08/06/2014 1:18 PM EDT

Report: Rocket Sirens Sound At Gaza Border

ABC Foreign Editor Jon Williams reports that the IDF have confirmed the rocket sirens are sounding, but are checking to see if it is a false alarm.

08/05/2014 4:20 PM EDT

Israel Arrests Kidnapping Suspect

Reuters reports that Israel has arrested one of the suspects in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.

Hussam Kawasme, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, was arrested on July 11 in connection with the killing of Israelis Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who went missing on June 12 and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later.

Their kidnapping sparked a cycle of violence that led to the month-long conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Kawasme's arrest was made public for the first time on Tuesday in a document from an Israeli court case over whether houses belonging to him and two other suspects - who remain at large - should be destroyed as a punitive measure.

The lawyers listed as representing Kawasme were not reachable for comment.

The court document said Kawasme had admitted to helping to organize the kidnapping - securing funding from the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza and purchasing weapons which he passed on to the two other suspects who carried out the attack.

Kawasme also helped to bury the bodies of the teenagers in a plot of land he had bought a few months earlier, it said.

Israel has named the other two suspects in the case as Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha.

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