Israel hits Gaza, suspends Cairo talks after rocket fire

GAZA CITY, Mai Yaghi- Israel and Palestinian militants resumed fighting across the Gaza border on Tuesday, ending a ceasefire, sparking panic across the war-torn enclave and halting truce talks.
Gaza emergency services said that three people, including a woman and a two-year-old child were killed and 45 people injured in one Israeli air strike in Gaza City.

Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said Israel had "opened the gates of hell on itself" by carrying out that attack and warned that the Jewish state would "pay the price for its crimes."
Another eight people were hurt in earlier air raids across the strip, the emergency services said.
The al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that it fired 34 rockets into Israel on Tuesday, hitting Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheva.
An Israeli military statement put the number fired at "about 50" but reported no casualties.
"A rocket hit an open area in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area," an army statement said. Earlier the army said two rockets landed near Beersheva, which is home to around 200,000 Israelis.
Air raid sirens were also heard in Jerusalem, with Hamas claiming a rocket attack on the city.
Police said it appeared that a rocket fell on empty ground in the occupied West Bank, outside Jerusalem.
The rocket fire began several hours before the end of an agreed 24-hour truce, which expired without being renewed at midnight (2100 GMT).
It prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a new round of air strikes on Gaza.and order his negotiators back from Egyptian-mediated ceasefire talks in Cairo.
"The rocket fire which broke the ceasefire also destroyed the foundation on which the talks in Cairo were based," Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told AFP early Wednesday.
"The Egyptian initiative is based on a total and unconditional cessation of hostilities, which was clearly broken when rockets were fired into Israel."
Palestinian delegation head Azzam al-Ahmed said that his team would leave Cairo on Wednesday.
"We are leaving...but we have not pulled out of negotiations," he told AFP, adding the Palestinians were waiting for Israel to respond to their truce proposal.
"We will not come back (to Cairo) until Israel responds," he said.
The fighting shattered nine days of relative quiet in the skies over Gaza.
A senior Hamas official, Ezzat al-Rishq, warned Israel it would "not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not".
But Israel's US ally put the blame squarely on the group itself.
"Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza... Rocket fire came from Gaza," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
"As of right now, with today's developments, we are very concerned and it is our understanding the ceasefire has broken down."
The renewal of Israeli air strikes spread panic among Gaza residents.
An AFP reporter saw hundreds of Palestinians streaming out of Shejaiya, an eastern area of Gaza City which has been devastated by more than a month of fighting between Israel and the militant Islamist Hamas movement.
More poured out of the Zeitun and Shaaf areas, alarmed by a series of explosions and heading to shelter in UN schools, local witnesses said.
- Amnesty appeals for Gaza access -
An Israeli official said the country's negotiating team had been ordered back from Cairo where after a succession of temporary ceasefires Egypt is pushing for a decisive end to the Gaza bloodshed, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side.
The army said that it has ordered that public bomb shelters within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of the Gaza border, be opened ready for use.
Israel has vowed not to negotiate under fire, and Netanyahu has warned there would be "a very strong response" to any resumption of rocket attacks.
The Cairo talks centre on an Egyptian proposal that meets some of the Palestinian demands, such as easing Israel's eight-year blockade on Gaza, but puts off debate on other thorny issues until later.
Amnesty International renewed an appeal for access to Gaza.
"Valuable time has already been lost and it is essential that human rights organisations are now able to begin the vital job of examining allegations of war crimes," it said.
- Hamas shift -
Hamas had repeatedly warned it would not extend the latest temporary ceasefire, pressing for immediate gains that would allow it to claim concessions from Israel after the devastating war which began on July 8.
Egypt's proposal calls for both sides to immediately stop shooting and includes provisions relating to opening the borders to allow for free movement of people, goods and construction materials, as well as a clause on regulating the economic crisis within the impoverished enclave.
But crucially, it postpones discussions on issues such as a port and airport for another month, until "after calm and stability returns," along with talks over exchanging the remains of two Israeli soldiers for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Jordan's national carrier, Royal Jordanian, announced it had resumed flights to Tel Aviv on Sunday, after suspending them for a month due to rocket fire hitting near the runway of Israel's main airport.

Wednesday, August 20th 2014
Mai Yaghi

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