19th August, 2014
Israel hauled its negotiators back from talks in Cairo and warplanes hit Gaza Tuesday after Palestinian rockets smashed into the south as the two sides were observing a 24-hour truce.
Nine days of relative quiet in the skies over Gaza came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday afternoon when three rockets struck southern Israel just hours before the truce was to expire at midnight local time (2100 GMT Monday).
Israel immediately ordered a military response, with warplanes striking targets across the battered Gaza Strip, although there were no immediate reports of casualties, Palestinian security sources and witnesses told AFP.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rockets fired at Beersheva, which is home to around 200,000 Israelis.
An Israeli official confirmed the negotiating team had been ordered back from Cairo where Egypt has been pushing for a decisive end to the Gaza bloodshed, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side.
“The Cairo process was based on the premise of a total ceasefire,” he told AFP.
“If Hamas fires rockets the Cairo process has no basis.”
Israel has repeatedly said it would not negotiate under fire and on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned there would be “a very strong response” should there be any resumption of fire.
Hamas dismissed his remarks as having “no weight”.
“Yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire and renew fire at Israeli civilians from Hamas ruled Gaza Strip,” said army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, confirming attacks on targets across the coastal enclave.
“We cease, they fire.”