Hamas, Israel resume attacks after abbreviated truce
By Karin Laub and Tia Goldenberg, AP
July 18, 2014, 12:15 am TWN
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip--Gaza residents rushed to banks, vegetable markets and shops Thursday during a first U.N.-brokered lull in 10 days of Israel-Hamas fighting, but a quick resumption of hostilities after it ended signaled that a permanent truce remains elusive.
Hamas fired 10 rockets at Israel after the end of the temporary truce, while Israel launched two airstrikes at the Gaza Strip, security officials said.
Egypt persisted with diplomatic efforts to bring all sides to the table Thursday, with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after Egyptian officials met separately with representatives of Israel and Hamas in Cairo. But the gaps remain wide.
Israel accepted Egypt's call earlier this week to halt all fighting, but Hamas rejected the idea because it first wants to lock in achievements, such as easing the seven-year blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.
During the humanitarian cease-fire, Gaza residents rushed to restock supplies after more than a week of being mostly holed up at home for fear of airstrikes.
The city's streets returned to normalcy during the lull, with traffic jams, motorists honking horns and Hamas police directing traffic at busy intersections.
Hundreds lined up outside banks, with people jostling and shouting to get to ATM machines. In an outdoor market, shoppers filled plastic bags with fruit, vegetables and freshly slaughtered chickens.
Abdallah Jaber, 42, seized the opportunity to visit his 87-year-old father, Hosni, in a care facility for the elderly and disabled close to the Israeli border, in an area that has been targeted repeatedly by the Israeli army as a launching area for rockets.
Several tank shells hit the upper floors of the five-story Wafa rehabilitation center last week, punching large holes into the wall facing the border.
Israel has demanded that the building be evacuated, but director Basman Ashi said such a trip was too risky for his 17 patients, many of them unable to walk.
Since July 8, Israel carried out nearly 2,000 airstrikes, while Hamas fired more than 1,300 rockets, reaching Israel's economic and cultural heartland.
Indictment over Killing
In the lead-up to Thursday's lull, 13 heavily armed Hamas militants tried to sneak into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza, the military said. Israeli aircraft struck the fighters at the mouth of the tunnel some 250 meters (820 feet) inside Israel, near a kibbutz.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the military believed at least one militant was killed in the strike.
Hamas' military wing said all its fighters returned safely.
In fighting early Thursday, Israeli aircraft struck 37 targets in Gaza, including the homes of senior Hamas leaders Fathi Hamad and Khalil al-Haya, the military said.
Three people were killed by a tank shell that hit a house in the southern town of Rafah, the Hamas-run police and al-Kidra said.
In the town of Khan Younis, hundreds joined the funeral procession of four members of a family, including two children, who were killed in an air strike the day before. The bodies, wrapped in white shrouds, were carried through the streets.
In Jerusalem, a court indicted a 29-year-old and two 16-year-olds in the death of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16. According to the indictment, the suspects went out for a “manhunt” that ended when they “cruelly” killed Abu Khdeir.