Israel and Hamas resume fighting after the end of the ceasefire

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Israel and Hamas resumed fighting, ending a week-long truce in Gaza that international mediators had hoped to extend for an eighth day.

The Israeli army said, “Hamas violated the cessation of operations and, in addition, fired toward Israeli territory,” adding that it had resumed fighting with Hamas. By Friday afternoon, the Israeli military said it had struck 200 “terrorist targets.”

The resumption of combat operations on Friday led to the collapse of a fragile truce between the warring sides that allowed the release of about 100 Israeli women and children and foreigners held hostage by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups in exchange for the release of about 240 Palestinian women and children from Gaza. Israeli prisons.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office accused Hamas of not fulfilling its commitment to release “all kidnapped women.” The Israeli army said that it was “currently striking Hamas terrorist targets” inside the Strip. There were immediate reports of air strikes and artillery shelling in Gaza after the collapse of the truce.

Hamas and other Palestinian armed factions said on Friday that they fired rockets at towns across southern Israel and even Tel Aviv in response to renewed Israeli air strikes, without claiming responsibility for the rocket fire from inside Gaza early on Friday. The Israeli army also responded after Hezbollah fired rockets across its northern border with Lebanon.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said that 178 people were killed and 589 injured in the new Israeli attack. Four children were among nine people killed in the southern city of Rafah, according to Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital.

Netanyahu’s office said he was resuming the fight to release the hostages and “eliminate” Hamas.

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Qatar, which mediated with Egypt and the United States to stop hostilities, said that negotiations between the two sides are continuing in an attempt to return to the truce. But Doha warned that the bombing of Gaza shortly after the end of the truce “complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip.”

The truce, initially set for four days beginning on November 24, was extended twice after Hamas offered to release more women and children in exchange for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and increased humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza.

But the cessation of hostilities was reversed after three Israelis were killed at a bus station in Jerusalem on Thursday in an attack for which Hamas claimed responsibility. An official familiar with the negotiations said that Hamas was scrambling to find 10 women and children to hand over in line with the original agreement, which was based on the release of about 10 Israeli hostages each day.

The official said: “The mediators are trying to find a way to add more people to the remaining women and children, and Hamas is trying to release more people.” “The goal now is to add a secondary category of hostages to women and children and to accelerate talks on a longer-term agreement that includes the release of soldiers,” he added.

Hamas insisted that during Thursday’s negotiations it made offers to return the hostages, including elderly prisoners.

“We and other groups in Gaza now have only three women and children, but… [Israel] Khalil al-Hayya, a Hamas official, told Al Jazeera: “We refused to extend the truce to receive them.”

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The militants are expected to demand greater concessions in exchange for the release of the remaining 140 hostages, including many Israeli soldiers and reservists.

But the Israeli government is still under pressure from its citizens to secure the release of all hostages, as their families called on Friday for a new agreement.

“The end of the current deal is a huge disappointment for the families,” said Ilan Zaharia, whose niece Eden Zaharia was among those captive. “We call on the Qatari and Egyptian mediators, as well as Hamas, to sit down and reach an agreement to increase the number of people released from Hamas families.”

“Women and children deal… “It’s not over,” Zaharia added. “Eden was very close to being released. . . “We want a big agreement that will bring all the hostages back to their homeland.”

The fighting marks the end of a short-lived respite for civilians in Gaza, who have endured weeks of intense Israeli bombardment and a ground invasion resulting from an October 7 Hamas attack on towns in southern Israel, in which the militant group killed 1,200 people and took about 240 hostage. .

Palestinian officials said more than 14,800 people in Gaza were killed in the Israeli attack, and the United Nations estimated that 1.8 million people fled their homes, creating a humanitarian crisis amid severe shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine. The United Nations said on Friday that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza was closed again. Rafah is the only operational entry point for aid into the besieged Strip.

Raids on the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Friday
Raids on the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Friday. The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza said that multiple areas in the densely populated Strip were targeted by Israeli air strikes after the end of the truce. © Mai Khaled/FT

Israel sent text messages to Gaza residents mentioning the areas they must evacuate. “The IDF will begin an overwhelming military offensive. . . “With the aim of eliminating the terrorist organization Hamas,” the letters stated. “For your safety, move immediately.”

The Israeli attack focused on northern Gaza, but the army is expected to move south to where about 80 percent of the Strip’s population has fled. Western governments are pressuring Israel to do more to protect civilians.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem on Thursday, “The massive loss of civilian life and displacement is on the scale we saw in northern Gaza.” [must] “It will not be repeated in the south.”

The Israeli army asked residents in the neighborhoods of southern Gaza and eastern Khan Yunis, as well as parts of northern Gaza, to move to what it described as “known shelters” in Rafah and a “humanitarian area” in Al-Mawasi.

Al-Mawasi is a 14-square-kilometre coastal area in southwest Gaza, where Israel has said it wants to declare a “safe zone,” although the United Nations said the unilaterally declared plan could put civilians in danger. A UN official said there were no humanitarian preparations in Al-Mawasi.

Additional reporting by Neri Zilber in Tel Aviv

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