As Gaza war resumes, Egypt urges new cease-fire


As Israel and Hamas resumed fighting Friday after a 72-hour cease-fire expired, Egypt called on all sides to return to the negotiating table, saying only “very limited sticking points” remain in reaching agreement on a formal cessation of hostilities.

Hopes that the limited cease-fire might hold collapsed when Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel only minutes after it expired, injuring two Israelis, police said.

Israel responded with a series of airstrikes, killing at least five Palestinians, including three children, Palestinian officials said.

“The renewed rocket attacks by terrorists at Israel are unacceptable, intolerable and shortsighted,” said army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

The outbreak of new hostilities left the fate of the mediating talks in Egypt uncertain, with the Israeli delegation leaving Cairo Friday morning.

Hamas officials said they were willing to continue negotiations, but an Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Israel would not conduct negotiations under fire and would protect its citizens by all means.

The breakdown was not entirely unexpected, as Hamas had warned it would not extend the cease-fire because Israel had not responded to any of the Palestinian demands.

Chief among them is Hamas’ insistence that Israel end its 7-year blockade of Gaza and allow normal trade and traffic into the Mediterranean seaside territory that is home to 1.8 million people. Israel maintains it is willing to consider easing border restrictions but wants Hamas to disarm.

The Egyptian foreign ministry urged an immediate resumption of the cease-fire and a return to negotiations, calling for “maintaining self-restraint, stopping military escalation and not targeting civilians in Gaza.”

It also suggested that all sides were close to a deal over Gaza.

The foreign ministry said the two sides should “exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time.”

By midday, 33 rockets had been fired from Gaza, with 26 landing in Israel, injuring two people. Three were intercepted and four fell short in Gaza, the Israeli army said.

Some 40,000 Gazan homes have been damaged or destroyed during the latest fighting that has displaced nearly half a million Palestinians and killed nearly 1,900 — more than 400 of them children, according to Gaza’s Public Works Ministry and Health Ministry.

Israel’s military says more than 60 of its soldiers, as well as a few civilians, have been killed in the fighting.

-USA Today

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