Middle East

Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting

A truce between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza has ended amid fresh air strikes which Israel says were countering rocket fire.

Palestinian group Hamas said the wife and child of its military commander Mohammed Deif were killed in the raids.

Israel said about 50 rockets were launched from Gaza on Tuesday, but there were no injuries reported.

Talks in Cairo to end the violence broke up with no deal, and Israeli delegates said they would return home.

Trading blame

Officials say 2,016 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died since Israel began its offensive on Gaza on 8 July.

Azzam al-Ahmad, the lead Palestinian negotiator and a senior member of the Fatah movement, blamed Israel for the failure to reach a deal.

"There was an Israeli decision to make the Cairo talks fail," he said in quotes carried by Reuters news agency.

However, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that rocket fire from Gaza had "made continuation of talks impossible" and "destroyed the premise upon which the talks were based".

The US has voiced concern about the renewed hostilities, and blamed Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamist group.

"Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks," state department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Israeli officials said the first three rockets landed in open fields near Beersheba, causing no injuries. Two were intercepted over Netivot.

Later, longer-range rockets targeted Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the Israeli military said - and warning sirens have sounded around southern and central Israel.

Witnesses in Gaza reported several Israeli air strikes, from Beit Lahiya in the north to Rafah in the south.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Palestinian civilians are once against fleeing from Israeli attacks
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many have set up temporary homes in what they hope are safer areas
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Israel had warned that its forces were prepared to retaliate if Gaza militants resumed rocket fire

Analysis: Sally Nabil, BBC News, Cairo

The picture was bleak even before the fighting resumed, and there was not much optimism among the members of the Palestinian delegation.

The gaps between the two parties were too wide to bridge.

The Egyptian mediators had tried to work on getting the blockade of Gaza eased without asking Hamas to lay down its weapons, a key Israeli demand.

They were keen to delay discussing the more thorny issues, like the construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza. But even that plan did not bear fruit.


Meeting deadlocked

The Israeli delegation had walked out of the Cairo meeting just hours before a midnight deadline, leaving the fate of the negotiations in question.

But even before that Azzam al-Ahmad told Reuters that there had been "no progress on any point", with big gaps remaining between the two sides.

Palestinian representatives said Israel was seeking guarantees that Hamas and other factions in Gaza would be disarmed, while the Palestinians were demanding an end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza, and the establishment of a seaport and airport.

Hamas insists it will not give up its weapons, while Israel wants to maintain some control over Gaza's crossings to prevent arms smuggling.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the aim of ending rocket fire. It also sought to destroy tunnels dug under the frontier with Israel used by militants to launch attacks.

The Palestinian health ministry says that 2,016 Palestinians have been killed since the offensive began, including 541 children and 250 women.

The Israeli authorities say 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai national.