Officials and residents in Israel are outraged as Hamas again violates an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire extended for 24 hours to reach an agreement that would avoid more bloodshed.
Israeli representatives in Cairo for negotiations immediately broke off the talks upon hearing news of the violation and have left Egypt to return to Israel. “It is impossible for us to negotiate under fire,” officials said.
A barrage of three Grad missiles were fired at Israel, two at the Negev city of Be’er Sheva and one at the city of Netivot, hours before the cease-fire deadline. Residents of the city and surrounds were not warned of the attack, because the Code Red incoming rocket alert siren was not triggered by the launch and did not activate for some reason.
The missiles reportedly landed in open areas on the outskirts of the cities, and no physical injuries or property damage have been reported.
The attack came following complaints by Gaza-based Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri, who warned reporters that Israel was “dragging its feet” in refusing to meet the terror group’s demands in Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo.
“Israel bears the responsibility for stalled negotiations, and shows no willingness to reach an agreement,” Zuhri said, adding that Hamas was “prepared to deal with all developments.” The phrase was a reference to a warning to the terrorists by Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, announced the day before.
“Following renewed rocket attacks at Israel… amidst the ceasefire, the IDF is currently targeting terror sites across the Gaza Strip,” IDF Spokesperson Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement to media. “The IDF remains alert and maintains both defensive and striking capabilities in order to address the renewed aggression. The IDF is determined to defend the civilians of the State of Israel. Yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire and renew fire at Israeli civilians from Hamas ruled Gaza Strip. This continued aggression will be addressed accordingly by the IDF.
“We will continue striking terror infrastructure, pursuing terrorists, and eliminating terror capabilities in the Gaza Strip, in order to restore security for the State of Israel.”
Shai Hajaj, the head of the Negev Regional Council, expressed his personal disappointment with the decision by Gaza terrorists to end an eight-day cease-fire rather than work towards peace.
“The terrorist organizations led by Hamas do not respect agreements time after time,” Hajaj told the Tazpit News Agency.
“We will not accept fire on our communities and the government must care for the safety of its citizens. The school year is scheduled to begin in the coming days, and the buildings are not properly fortified. There are only a few bomb shelters, which cannot properly facilitate the student population, and they are too far away to reach in time,” he said.