Hamas and Israel resume attacks after 5-hour humanitarian truce gave brief window of normality

Fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed Thursday, including an airstrike that killed three Palestinian children feeding pigeons on their roof, after a temporary cease-fire that allowed Gazans to stock up on supplies.

GAZA, Gaza Strip — Fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed Thursday, including an airstrike that killed three Palestinian children feeding pigeons on their roof, after a temporary cease-fire that allowed Gazans to stock up on supplies.

The resumption of violence signalled major obstacles to Egyptian-led efforts to reach a permanent truce between the two sides, despite increased efforts by Egypt to broker a deal.

The U.N.-brokered five-hour lull in fighting gave residents of the Gaza Strip time to crowd into stores and vegetable markets after more than a week of being mostly holed up at home for fear of airstrikes.

But the streets emptied out quickly after the cease-fire expired, with Palestinian militants firing more than 50 rockets at Israel, including a heavy salvo toward the Tel Aviv area that sent people running for cover, the Israeli military said.

Israel responded with a wave of eight airstrikes, including one that killed two boys and a girl ages 8 to 10 from the same family in Gaza City, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said.

TV footage from the scene showed a doll and a sandal near pools of blood on the roof of the home.

Their grandfather, Marzouk Shahaibar, said the cousins had gone on the roof of the home to feed pigeons.

“Without even realizing it, they were struck from above,” he said tearfully. “They weren’t fighting. They did nothing.”

The deaths came a day after four boys ages 9 to 11 were killed on the beach beside a coastal road west of Gaza City. Israel issued a renewed warning Thursday to Gaza residents to leave their homes for their own safety.

Mounting civilian casualties have increased international pressure to stop the hostilities, but negotiators have made little headway.

Egyptian efforts to bring all sides to the table continued Thursday, with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after Egyptian officials met separately with representatives of Israel and Hamas in Cairo. But the gaps remain wide.

Israel accepted Egypt’s call earlier this week to halt all fighting, but Hamas rejected the idea because it first wants to lock in achievements, such as easing the seven-year blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.

Strict Egyptian access restrictions to Gaza over the past year, combined with long-running Israeli closures, severely weakened the Islamic militant group.

During the humanitarian cease-fire, Gaza’s streets were jammed with traffic, motorists honking horns and Hamas police directing traffic at busy intersections.

Hundreds lined up outside banks, with people jostling and shouting to get to ATM machines. In an outdoor market, shoppers filled plastic bags with fruit, vegetables and freshly slaughtered chickens.

“The situation is likely to get worse because there is no clear way out of it,” said Moussa Amran, 43, a money changer in central Gaza City.

Israel has carried out nearly 2,000 airstrikes and Hamas has fired more than 1,300 rockets since the current conflict erupted on July 8 as anger spread over the killings of three Israeli teenagers followed by the burning death of a Palestinian teen in an apparent revenge attack.

More than 235 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. One Israeli has been killed and several wounded in rocket attacks, officials said.

Many of the rockets fired from Gaza have reached beyond the border area to Israel’s economic and cultural heartland, but the Israeli casualty toll has been kept low due to the success of its “Iron Dome” missile defence system, which has shot down more than 300 incoming rockets. The military said Thursday that the system has shot down 86 per cent of its targets since the current round of fighting began.

Israel accuses Hamas of firing from within populated neighbourhoods, using civilians as “human shields” and mosques, homes and schools for storing weapons.

On Thursday, the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, said that during a routine check it discovered about 20 rockets hidden in one of its vacant Gaza schools and called on militants to respect the “sanctity and integrity” of U.N. property.

“This incident, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWA’s vital mission to assist and protect Palestine refugees in Gaza,” the agency said.

In Cairo, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri insisted in an interview with The Associated Press that the cease-fire deal was still alive and expressed frustration that “Palestinian factions” — a clear reference to Hamas — had not agreed to it.

Hamas’ agreement is crucial to any such truce, but its demand that the blockade be eased significantly is likely to be rejected by Israel and Egypt because it would strengthen the group’s hold on Gaza, where it seized power in 2007.

On Wednesday, the No. 2 in Hamas, Moussa Abu Marzouk, presented a list of demands to Egypt, including that Gaza’s crossings be opened and all types of goods be allowed into the territory, said a senior official in the group who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations with reporters.

Israel has allowed consumer goods into Gaza, but has restricted construction material, fearing it would be diverted for military use. Israel has also barred most exports from Gaza, crippling the local economy.

Hamas also wants to be allowed to build a sea port as a gate to the world, with shipments under international monitoring, the Hamas official said.

In addition, Hamas demands the release of 52 activists who had been released by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap, but were rearrested in recent months.

A high-level Israeli delegation also visited Cairo for several hours on Wednesday to discuss the terms of a cease-fire, said Egyptian government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

In the lead-up to Thursday’s lull, 13 heavily armed Hamas militants tried to sneak into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza but were struck by Israeli aircraft at the mouth of the tunnel some 250 metres (820 feet) inside Israel, near a kibbutz, the military said.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the military believed at least one militant was killed in the strike and the remaining fighters appeared to have returned to Gaza through the tunnel. Hamas’ military wing said all its fighters returned safely.

Israeli aircraft also struck 37 other targets earlier Thursday before the temporary truce took effect, including the homes of senior Hamas leaders Fathi Hamad and Khalil al-Haya, the military said.

In Jerusalem, a 29-year-old Jewish man and two teenagers were indicted on charges of murder and kidnapping in the death of a Palestinian teen. According to the indictment, the suspects went out for a “manhunt” that ended when they “cruelly” killed Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

The indictment said that the suspects — who have not been identified — carried out the crime to avenge the deaths of three Israeli teens last month in the West Bank and that they killed Abu Khdeir “solely because he was an Arab.” The suspects also were accused of attempting to kidnap a seven-year-old Arab boy a day earlier.

Abu Khdeir was strangled, beaten and burned to death while he was unconscious, according to the indictment.

The death led to days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and police in east Jerusalem and elicited widespread international condemnation.

On Thursday, Israel’s Ministry of Defence recognized Abu Khdeir as a “victim of terrorism.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Need a knife? There are knives of all shapes and sizes at The Kitchen Store.
Hints from Heloise: Finding a good set of kitchen knives

Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Most Read