It was not clear if the renewed fighting would derail the Cairo talks aimed at reaching a sustainable truce, or whether the Egyptian mediators can find a way to prevent a further escalation and a return to full-out war.
Militants from Gaza fired first, after the temporary truce expired at 8 a.m. Friday, launching 21 rockets toward Israel. Most landed it open fields, but two were intercepted over the coastal city of Ashkelon.
The Israeli military said it responded with strikes “across Gaza.”
Gaza police said an Israeli airstrike hit in the area of a housing project in northern Gaza and that there were reports of casualties. Another strike hit a farm south of Gaza City, they said.
|An Islamic flag flies on the rubble of a house, destroyed by an Israeli strike in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah, Gaza Strip, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap)|
Police also reported fire from Israeli tanks on northern Gaza and from Israeli gunboats at the central area of the territory.
In Cairo, both sides are under intense international pressure to reach a deal. As part of such an arrangement, Israel wants to see Hamas disarmed or prevented from re-arming, while Hamas demands Gaza’s borders be opened. No progress was reported in all-night talks that ended before dawn Friday.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that while his group did not agree to an extension of the truce, it was willing to continue the talks.
Hamas, which has seen its popularity boosted for confronting Israel, entered the Cairo talks from a point of military weakness after losing hundreds of fighters, two-thirds of its rockets arsenal and all of its attack tunnels.
With no definitive statement that it would return to open war, the group appeared to be keeping its options open while several smaller Gaza militant organizations claimed responsibility for Friday’s rocket fire.
The Israeli delegation left Cairo earlier on Friday morning, according to a Cairo airport official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev would not say whether Israel is interested in extending the cease-fire or if it will respond to the rockets.
Regev blamed Gaza militants for breaking the cease-fire.
“The cease-fire is over,” Regev said. “They did that.”