Israel resumes air strikes on Gaza, blames Hamas for ceasefire violation

The death toll in Gaza soared to 192 following a week of intensive bombardment
Gaza City: Israel carried out at least four air strikes against Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, resuming raids after a truce that failed to get off the ground, AFP correspondents and eyewitnesses said.
An AFP correspondent reported one air strike east of Gaza City, and eyewitnesses reported a second in the centre of the city.
Witnesses also reported strikes in Nusseirat in central Gaza as well as in the Khan Yunis area in the south.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
The raids came shortly after Israel's army announced it was ending a ceasefire it had observed since 0600 GMT under the terms of an Egyptian truce proposal.
Hamas had effectively rejected the proposal, saying it was not consulted and would not halt fire without a broad deal that included concessions it has sought.
"Hamas has fired 47 rockets since we suspended our strikes in Gaza at 9:00 am. As a result, we have resumed our operation against Hamas," the army said on its official Twitter account.
"Following six hours of indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel, the IDF (army) has resumed operational activities against Hamas," military spokesman Lieutenant Peter Lerner said on his Twitter account.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Israeli official told AFP that the military had been ordered to "act forcefully".
"After Hamas and Islamic Jihad refused the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and fired dozens of rockets at Israel, the prime minister and defence minister have ordered the IDF to act forcefully against the terror targets in Gaza."
More than 192 people have been killed in Gaza over the past week as Israel has waged a relentless air campaign against Hamas militants.
In response, militants have fired more than a thousand rockets into Israel where no one has been killed in the current confrontation.
Cairo's initiative was made after Washington warned Israel against a ground offensive, but stopped short of criticising Israel over the Palestinian civilian toll, and called on Hamas to halt rocket attacks.
"We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this goal that we hope can restore the calm that we are seeking," said US President Barack Obama, describing the deaths of Palestinian civilians as a "tragedy" but expressing support for Israel's right to defend itself.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge before dawn on July 8, hitting Gaza with an intensive aerial bombing campaign aimed at stamping out cross-border rocket fire. Militants answered with hundreds of rockets, dozens of which have targeted central and even northern Israel.
Watch Video: Nowhere Safe in Gaza: Rockets and Revenge
The deadly conflict, which has claimed the most victims since Israel's blistering 22-day offensive in 2008-2009, has also seen rockets from Syria and Lebanon hitting the Israeli north, raising fears of the conflict spreading.
Overnight, three rockets fired from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula hit Israel's Red Sea resort of Eilat, two of them inside the city, causing damage, and one outside in an open area, the military said.
- Hamas rejection -
Details of Egypt's proposal came late on Monday. "0600 GMT has been set for the beginning of the implementation of truce arrangements between the two sides," a statement said, with Cairo saying it would be willing to host talks between high-level Israeli and Palestinian delegations after the ceasefire went into effect.
Israel's security cabinet met early Tuesday, and ministers voted six to two in favour of accepting the truce.
Two hardliners voted against - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, both of whom have expressed support for a reinvasion of Gaza.
But in the decision, Israel warned that if there was renewed fire from Gaza militants it would "hit back with force", army radio reported.
Despite the efforts to restore calm, Hamas rejected Egypt's proposal, with spokesman Fawzi Barhum telling AFP there would be no truce without a fully fledged deal to end hostilities.
"In times of war, you don't cease fire and then negotiate," he said.
Hamas had not received any official proposal, and even if Israel held its fire, it would have "no value" after the widespread damage it has wreaked in Gaza, he said.
And its militant wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the proposal as "surrender", pledging to "intensify" attacks on Israel.
Hamas has said it will not hold its fire without Israel agreeing to a list of demands, including an end to its eight-year blockade on Gaza and opening the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
It also wants Israel to free Palestinians it rearrested after releasing them in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas welcomed the Egyptian initiative, as did the Arab League which called on "all parties" to accept the truce.
- US pressure -
Washington warned its Israeli ally against mounting a possible ground invasion as the death toll from air strikes spiralled, drawing criticism from the United Nations and rights watchdogs.
"Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put more civilians at risk," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
It was the first time the White House has specifically warned against an Israeli invasion of Gaza.
As the conflict entered its eighth day, the death toll hit 188, more than the toll from eight days of violence in the last major confrontation in November 2012.
Human rights groups say more than 75 percent of the dead have been non-combatants, and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said more than a quarter were children.
Over the same period, 840 rockets have struck Israel, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the northern city of Hadera. Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system has shot down 191 rockets, the army said.
( Source : AFP )
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