Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Strikes resume as truce between Israel, Hamas ends

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A three-day peace crumbled Friday after Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets at Israel and Israeli forces responded with their own barrage, including an airstrike near a mosque in Gaza that killed a 10-year-old boy.

By nightfall Friday, Gaza militants had fired 51 rockets and mortars at Israel, and Israeli forces had hit 47 targets in the coastal enclave, according to a tally by an Israeli military spokesman.

In Cairo, high-level talks to end the monthlong war stumbled, with mixed messages issued that offered little confidence in a deal being near.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "deep disappointment" over the failure to extend the truce, which ended Friday morning.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday, "The United States is very concerned about today's developments in Gaza. We condemn the renewed rocket fire, and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of that conflict."

The Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza and is branded a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, issued statements through its military wing that it would continue to fight until its demands — for more open borders, more freedom of movement and trade, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the building of sea ports and airports — are met.

On Thursday night, a spokesman for Hamas' military wing essentially warned his political leaders that they should pack up and come home unless there is more progress in Cairo.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said late Friday: "We think Israel is dragging its feet. They did not respond to our demands and have not done a thing to show that there is a reason to extend the cease-fire."

The talks in Cairo are being brokered by Egypt and its security apparatus, led by a government dominated by military leaders who are hostile to Hamas. American and European diplomats are struggling to exert influence in the talks.

On Friday, families in Gaza began fleeing areas close to the Israeli border, fearing Israeli airstrikes and artillery.

Shortly before noon, an Israeli strike hit a mosque, killing the 10-year-old boy, relatives said. The strike injured six, they said.

Israeli police reported that two Israelis were wounded by Palestinian rocket fire.

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