Peace talks break down as Gaza war resumes
Israel retaliated with airstrikes Tuesday in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired three rockets into southern Israel, bringing a swift end to a temporary truce.
Peace talks in Cairo to end the month-long war collapsed as Israeli officials withdrew their representatives from the Egyptian-brokered negotiations, telling the Associated Press that Hamas had broken “the premise of the talks” by renewing the cycle of violence. A member of the Palestinian delegation told NBC News they too will leave Cairo, beginning Wednesday.
More than 2,000 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed since hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated on July 8 with the beginning of an Israeli military offensive to end rocket attacks from Gaza. More than 10,000 people have been wounded and thousands more displaced by the violence, devastating the Palestinian enclave and creating what United Nations officials have called a humanitarian crisis. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.
The latest spate of Hamas rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes brought a violent end to what had been a 10-day truce, the longest cessation of hostilities since the conflict began six weeks ago. An Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson tweeted Wednesday that over 137 rockets had been fired from Gaza since Hamas broke the cease-fire. Israel responded by bombing targets in Beit Lahia, an agricultural area north of Gaza, as well as Khan Younis to the south. Another Israeli airstrike Wednesday targeted the home of Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, killing his wife and two-year-old daughter, a senior Hamas official told the Associated Press. It was not immediately known whether the strike killed the elusive militant leader.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf expressed concern that the temporary truce had fallen apart, calling for an “immediate end to rocket fire and hostilities and a return to cease-fire talks.” Harf reiterated that “Israel has a right to defend itself against such attacks,” but pushed the warring parties to agree to another cease-fire to resume negotiations.