Gaza ceasefire talks collapse

Tuesday 19 August 2014 23.24
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Palestinian security officials said the air raids targeted open areas in the northern area of Beit Lahiya
Palestinian security officials said the air raids targeted open areas in the northern area of Beit Lahiya
Palestinians share a breakfast at a UN school where families have sought refuge
Palestinians share a breakfast at a UN school where families have sought refuge
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to strike back after reported rocket attacks
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to strike back after reported rocket attacks

A temporary ceasefire in Gaza has "collapsed" after a midnight deadline passed with no agreement to extend a truce, a senior Palestinian official has said.

"The ceasefire has collapsed and Israel is responsible," said Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of a joint-Palestinian delegation in Cairo participating in indirect negotiations with Israel.

"We are leaving tomorrow, but we have not pulled out of negotiations," he told AFP, adding the Palestinians were waiting for Israel to respond to their truce proposal.

"We will not come back (to Cairo) until the Israel responds," he said.

Ahmed, an aide of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, heads the delegation that includes senior Hamas officials.

One of the Hamas officials, Ezzat al-Rishq, warned Israel "will not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not."

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Palestinian charges that Israel was to blame for a breakdown in ceasefire talks in Cairo, saying rocket fire from Gaza "made continuation of talks impossible."
              
Spokesman Mark Regev responded to Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed's charge that Israel had thwarted the talks that broke down after Israel recalled its negotiators from Egypt, accusing Hamas of violating a truce.

"The Cairo process was built on a total and complete cessation of all hostilities and so when rockets were fired from Gaza, not only was it a clear violation of the ceasefire but it also destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based," Mr Regev said.

Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport to be targeted - Hamas

The armed wing of the Hamas Islamist militant group that dominates Gaza have threatened to aim more rocket fire at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv and cautioned international airlines to avoid it.

Citing Israel's air strikes in Gaza that have killed three people after rockets were fired at Israel in breach of a truce, a Hamas commander said in a statement the group "has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression," by making the airport a "target of attack" for the day.

Hamas said earlier it had fired a rocket at the airport, at a time when dozens of rockets were shot at southern Israel and the Tel Aviv area. 

There were no reported casualties in those strikes.

Earlier, the military wing of the Islamist Hamas said it pounded Israel with rocket fire, hitting Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheva.

The Israeli military confirmed hits in both places but there were no reported casualties.

"A rocket hit an open area in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area," a statement said. 

Israel carried out at least four air strikes across Gaza and ordered its negotiating team back from truce talks in Cairo after the three rockets hit the country's south.

Palestinian witnesses and security officials said the air raids targeted open areas in the northern area of Beit Lahiya, in Maghazi in the centre, and in Khan Yunis and in Rafah in the south.

The Israeli foreign ministry declared the rocket attacks a violation of a 24-hour ceasefire, which had been agreed in Cairo last night.

Two people died and 16 were injured in the latest Israeli air strikes on a house in Gaza.

Local emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said a young girl and a woman were killed in the latest air strikes.

All the casualties are understood to be from the same family.

Witnesses told AFP that Israeli F16 jets fired at least three rockets at the house, close to offices of Hamas's Al-Aqsa broadcasting station.

Emergency workers fear there may still be people trapped under the rubble of the house. 

US responds to airstrikes 

The United States has blamed Hamas for the breakdown in indirect talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, claiming a durable ceasefire has been compromised due to rocket fire from Gaza.

Department of State spokesperson Marie Harf blamed the Palestinian Islamist group for renewed fighting saying "Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza... Rocket fire came from Gaza." 

"We are very concerned about today's development, condemn the renewed rocket fire and as we have said Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks," Ms Harf told reporters.

"We call for an immediate end of rocket fire hostilities and the return to ceasefire talks," she added.

"We hope that the parties can reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire or, if necessary, agree to another extension of their temporary ceasefire so they can continue the conversation."

Keywords: gaza, israel