Middle East

Gaza ceasefire ends as Israel reports rocket fire

Residents walk through the rubble in the devastated neighbourhood of Shejaiya in Gaza City (7 August 2014) Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than 10,000 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged, according to the UN

Palestinian militant organisation Hamas has rejected any extension of the three-day ceasefire in Gaza, which expired on Friday morning.

It said that Israel had failed to meet its demands, including the re-opening of Gaza Harbour to shipping.

Several rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel as the ceasefire ended at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT). Israeli forces have not yet responded to the attacks.

Some 1,940 people have died in four weeks of fighting in Gaza.

Palestinian officials say at least 1,875 people have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and destroying the network of tunnels it said were used by militants to launch attacks inside Israel.

The UN says 1,354 of those who died were civilians, including 415 children and 214 women.

Israel's government says 64 soldiers were killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai national. It also claims that about 900 Palestinian militants were killed in the fighting.

Ready for 'long war'

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Gazan militants had fired more than 18 rockets at Israel since the end of the ceasefire on Friday morning.

The military added that its Iron Dome anti-missile shield had intercepted a rocket above the southern city of Ashkelon, while the remaining rockets fell on open ground.

Palestinian militants had already launched two rockets toward Israel three hours before the truce expired, the IDF said. Hamas has denied firing them.

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Media caption"Many here expect the talks to end and fighting to resume", as Orla Guerin reports from Gaza

A Hamas military wing spokesman earlier called on Palestinian negotiators holding indirect talks with Israeli negotiators in Cairo to refuse any ceasefire extension unless its long-term demands were met.

The spokesman said his organisation was ready for "a long war".

Israeli officials said earlier that they were willing to extend the ceasefire, but Hamas, which controls Gaza, says there was a big gap between the sides' positions.

Egyptian officials, who brokered the 72-hour ceasefire that began on Tuesday, were working against the clock on Thursday to persuade both sides to agree a long-term deal.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Life almost returned to normal for some people in Gaza during the truce
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Half a million people in Gaza have been displaced by the month-long conflict
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Israeli troops have taken up "defensive positions" outside the Gaza Strip
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Israel pulled its ground troops out of Gaza after saying it had achieved its aim of destroying Hamas tunnels

On Wednesday, Israeli officials said they had expressed their readiness to "extend the truce under its current terms". But the deputy political leader of Hamas, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said: "There is no agreement."

Hamas had been reiterating its calls for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza, the release of prisoners and the end of the Israeli offensive.

The Israelis, for their part, were sticking firm to their main demand - the demilitarisation of Gaza. But the BBC's Sally Nabil in Cairo says that this was met with a big "no" from all the Palestinian factions.

On Thursday, the human rights group Amnesty International called for an investigation into what it said was mounting evidence that Israeli forces had deliberately attacked hospitals and health professionals in Gaza. The attacks have left at least six medics dead.