Israeli military launches airstrikes after Gaza rocket fire
By Josef Federman, AP
August 20, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
JERUSALEM--The Israeli military said it carried out a series of airstrikes Tuesday across the Gaza Strip in response to renewed rocket fire, a burst of violence that broke a temporary cease-fire and endangered negotiations in Egypt over ending the monthlong war between Israel and Hamas.
The fighting occurred some eight hours before a temporary truce was set to expire. Egypt had persuaded Israel and Egypt to extend the truce by 24 hours to give more times for the negotiations.
While there were no injuries reported in Israel or Gaza, it remained unclear whether the talks in Egypt would continue.
“This rocket attack on Beersheba is a grave and direction violation of the cease-fire,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said. He refused to say whether Israel would halt the negotiations, but Israel has repeatedly said it will only negotiate if there is a “total and complete” cease-fire.
The Israeli military said Gaza militants fired three rockets into Israel that landed in open areas near the southern city of Beersheba. Hamas police officials said seven Israeli airstrikes targeted open areas.
Within minutes, it said it carried out a series of airstrikes. It accused militants of violating the cease-fire and said it maintains “both defense and striking capabilities in order to address the renewed aggression.”
The rocket fire broke a nearly weeklong lull that has held during the Egyptian-mediated negotiations.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But shortly before the launch, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum hinted of more rocket fire, saying: “If Netanyahu doesn't understand ... the language of politics in Cairo, we know how to make him understand.”