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Israel, Hamas resume fire after 3-day Gaza truce

By Mohammed Daraghmeh

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 11:39 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 11:39 a.m. MDT

Smoke, dust and debris rise over Gaza City after an Israeli strike, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, as Israel and Gaza militants resumed cross-border attacks after a three-day truce expired and Egyptian-brokered talks on a new border deal for blockaded Gaza hit a deadlock.

Hatem Moussa, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza militants resumed rocket attacks on Israel on Friday, refusing to extend a three-day truce after Egyptian-brokered talks between Israel and Hamas on a new border deal for blockaded Gaza hit a deadlock.

Israel responded with a series of airstrikes that killed at least five Palestinians, including three children, Palestinian officials said. Two Israelis were wounded by rocket fire, police said.

The renewed violence threw the Cairo talks on a broader deal into doubt. Hamas officials said they are ready to continue talks, but Israel's government spokesman said Israel will not negotiate under fire.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry expressed "extreme regret" over the failure to extend the truce, urged restraint by both sides and called for a new cease-fire to resume negotiations. The ministry said progress had been made in the talks, but did not explain.

Later Friday, the Palestinian delegation was to meet again with Egyptian mediators.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "deep disappointment" at the failure to extend the cease-fire and urged the parties to swiftly find a way back to negotiations to reach "a durable cease-fire," U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

"The secretary-general firmly calls on the parties not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza," Haq said. "He condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable. "

Hamas wants Israel to open Gaza's borders, following a seven-year closure also enforced by Egypt, but Israel says it will only do so if the Islamic militants disarm or are prevented from re-arming. Hamas has insisted it will never give up its weapons.

The wide gaps became clear at an all-night meeting between Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators that preceded the renewed fire. Hamas negotiators told The Associated Press that Israel rejected all of their demands.

Hamas had entered the Cairo talks from a position of military weakness, following a month of fighting in which Israel pounded Gaza with close to 5,000 strikes. Israel has said Hamas lost hundreds of fighters, two-thirds of its rocket arsenal and all of its tunnels under the border with Israel.

The heavy toll of the war appears to have made Hamas even more resistant to returning to the status quo. The group is unlikely to accept a cease-fire without assurances that Gaza's borders will be opened — particularly after the fighting left more than 1,900 Gaza residents dead, close to 10,000 wounded and tens of thousands displaced, with entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble.

Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel even before the temporary truce expired at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) Friday.

By late Friday, more than 50 rockets had been fired. Two Israelis were hurt, and one of the rockets hit a home, causing damaging, but no injuries.

The Israeli authorities banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem other areas within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the Gaza border because of the rocket fire.

The rockets appeared to have been an attempt by Hamas to exert pressure on Israel without triggering a major escalation. Smaller Gaza groups claimed responsibility, while there was no word from Hamas rocket squads.

However, Israel said it will not negotiate under such terms.

"When Hamas broke the cease-fire, when Hamas launched rockets and mortar shells at Israel, they broke the premise of the talks," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "There will not be negotiations under fire."

The Israeli delegation to the Cairo talks left Egypt on Friday morning, and it was not clear if it would return.

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