Israel Resumes Gaza Bombing after Week-Long Truce

Palestinian Territories: Fighting resumed in Gaza on Friday immediately after the expiry of a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas, with the first fatalities reported minutes later, according to health officials in the Palestinian territory. An AFPTV livecam showed a heavy cloud of grey smoke rolling over northern Gaza, and apparent sounds of automatic weapons fire and explosions within the first 90 minutes after the truce expired at 0500 GMT. Israel’s military said fighter jets were “currently striking” Hamas targets in Gaza, and AFP journalists reported air strikes in the north and south of the territory. Marwan al-Hams, the director of AlNajar hospital in Rafah in southern Gaza, where many Palestinians fled after being told by Israel to leave the north of the territory, said strikes killed at least nine people in the city, including four children. Elsewhere, two children were killed in air raids on Gaza City, said Fadel Naim, a doctor with Al-Ahli hospital in the city. A source close to Hamas told AFP the group’s armed wing had received “the order to resume combat” and to “defend the Gaza Strip”, with heavy fighting reported in parts of Gaza City. Combat resumed shortly after Israel’s army said it had intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza, the first from the territory since a missile launched minutes into the start of the truce on November 24. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said fighting had restarted after Hamas “violated” the truce. “Upon the resumption of fighting, we emphasise: The Government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war: Releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel,” it said in a statement. Sirens warning of potential missile fire sounded around several communities near Gaza in the hour after the fighting resumed, and Israeli authorities said they were restarting security measures in the area including closing schools. Despite the resumption of fighting, talks between Qatari and Egyptian mediators were “ongoing”, said a source briefed on the talks. During the sevenday truce dozens of hostages were freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, and more aid entered Gaza where about 80 percent of the population is displaced and grappling with shortages of food, water and other essentials. On Thursday, US top diplomat Antony Blinken, meeting Israeli and Palestinian officials, called for the pause in hostilities to be extended, and warned any resumption of combat must protect Palestinian civilians. Other world leaders, and aid groups, had also sought an extended pause. The truce had paused fighting that began on October 7 when Hamas operatives broke through Gaza’s militarised border into Israel. The unprecedented attack killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and operatives kidnapped about 240, according to Israeli authorities. Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas in response and unleashed an air and ground military campaign in Gaza that the Hamas government says has killed more than 15,000 people, also mostly civilians. During the truce brokered by Qatar with support from Egypt and the United States, 80 Israeli hostages were freed in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. More than 20 foreigners, most of them Thais living in Israel, were freed outside the scope of the agreement.

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