Truce that was not to be
ISRAELI air strikes resumed in the Gaza Strip yesterday, six hours after Israel unilaterally entered an Egyptian-proposed truce that was not accepted by Palestinian militants.
Israel announced at 9am that it had accepted the Egyptian initiative, but a barrage of nearly 50 rockets from Gaza continued to fly into its territory over the next several hours.
By 3pm, Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner confirmed that "we've resumed some (strikes) in Gaza", but would not provide specifics.
Israel earlier approved the Egyptian-proposed deal, but the Palestinian territory's dominant Hamas militant group responded suspiciously, saying it had not been consulted by Cairo.
Hamas' armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the truce deal, saying: "Our battle with the enemy continues, and will increase in ferocity and intensity."
Live television showed Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepting several rockets over the port city of Ashdod, where a factory was hit. Emergency services said no one was hurt.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Hamas for firing rockets from the Gaza Strip after Israel had accepted the truce.
"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets, in multiple numbers, in the face of a goodwill effort (to secure) a ceasefire," Mr Kerry told a news conference in Vienna.
So far, the conflict has claimed 192 Palestinian lives, with rights groups saying well over two-thirds were civilians.
The worst Gaza flare-up in two years has killed no one in Israel, largely due to the Iron Dome system. But the frequent rocket salvoes have disrupted life, with air-raid sirens sending people in much of the country racing to shelters.
Israel will expand its week-long military campaign in the Gaza Strip if Hamas refuses to accept the ceasefire plan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned earlier.
Under the proposal announced by Egypt's Foreign Ministry, "de-escalation arrangements" were to have taken effect at 6am GMT, pending implementation of a full truce.
The surge in hostilities over the past week was prompted by the murder last month of three Jewish seminary students in the occupied West Bank, and the revenge killing on July 2 of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem.
AFP, NYT, REUTERS