GAZA: Hamas said Wednesday that an Israeli airstrike hit the home of its military chief in Gaza, killing his wife and two-year-old daughter. Israel’s bombardment of the region resumed Tuesday after militants in the coastal strip launched rockets hours before a cease-fire was due to expire. A senior Hamas official told The Associated Press that one of the Israeli strikes hit the home of Mohammed Deif, the Islamic militant group’s elusive military chief. It was not immediately clear where Deif was at the time. But speaking from Cairo, Moussa Abu Marzouk, another senior Hamas leader, said the attack had killed Deif’s wife and daughter. Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel several hours before the latest extension of the cease-fire was due to expire, prompting Israel to pull out their diplomatic officials from Cairo. Since then at least 10 Palestinians have been killed and 68 wounded in Israeli strikes, Gaza Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra told the AP. Meanwhile, Rocket fire from Gaza has “made continuation of talks impossible,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, rejecting Palestinian charges that Israel was to blame for a breakdown in ceasefire talks in Cairo.
Spokesman Mark Regev responded to Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed’s charge that Israel had thwarted the talks that broke down on Tuesday 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,” Regev said, according to Reuters news agency. A week-long truce in Gaza collapsed with both sides blaming each other after Palestinian fighters launched rockets into Israel and Israel attacked “terror sites” inside the enclave.
The Israeli military launched attacks on at least 10 sites in Gaza on Tuesday, killing at least three people, and recalled its team working on a permanent ceasefire with Palestinians in Cairo after three rockets landed in Israel.
Hamas, the Palestinian group that runs Gaza, said Israel had targeted Mohammed Deif, the head of its armed wing.
The death toll has since risen to 10, with 80 Palestinians injured in the latest fighting.
An Israeli government official said: “In response to Hamas’s violation of the truce, the prime minister and defence minister have ordered the IDF [Israeli army] to once more attack terror sites in the Gaza Strip.” Agencies
The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, said on Twitter that it had fired rockets towards Tel Aviv – confirmation that Hamas was involved in the latest violence. No one was injured in the attack on the city, the Israeli army said.
The violence apparently spells the end of efforts in Cairo to secure a permanent ceasefire to end the war in Gaza, in which more than 2,000 people have died. Most of the dead are Palestinian civilians.
Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from West Jerusalem, said: “This is the first time that rockets have been fired since late Wednesday, and they came in the hours approaching the latest deadline for the ceasefire negotiations.”
“Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, had warned any fire would be met by, in his words, ‘a very aggressive response.'”
In Cairo, Palestinian negotiators declared the ceasefire talks over, and said they would leave Egypt on Wednesday. “We told the Egyptians we are ready to return to the talks once they find the proper atmosphere,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, the Palestinian negotiator, adding that the Palestinians had submitted a final ceasefire proposal.
“It’s clear the Israelis are not interested in the ceasefire. We did not hear from them. We were willing to, but we did not hear from them,” he said.