Ceasefire Deal Expires as Israel Resumes Fighting in Gaza

The week-long truce between Israel and Hamas expired Friday as Israel renewed its combat operations, accusing the militant group of violating their agreement.

The Israel Defense Forces accused Hamas of firing towards Israel territory just as the truce was set to expire at 7 a.m., claiming it successfully intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza.

“Hamas violated the operational pause, and in addition, fired toward Israeli territory,” the Israel Defense Forces said in an additional statement at around 7:15 a.m. local time.

“The IDF has resumed combat against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.” It did not provide specifics.

Minutes later, according to CNN, Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior reported Israeli military vehicles were firing in its northwest region, adding Israeli aircraft were seen in the skies above the area and that strikes had resumed in areas across Gaza. Smoke could be seen “billowing” in footage from the Gaza Strip, according to the Associated Press. Gunfire could also be heard.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added: “The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization has violated the outline. It has not met its obligation to release all of the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens.

“Upon the resumption of fighting, we emphasize: The Government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war: Releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel.”

Despite the return to battle, mediators continued discussions with both sides over the release of hostages held by Hamas, according to CNN and The Wall Street Journal, with hopes for a breakthrough.

Earlier Thursday, the sides had agreed to extend the truce in a new deal that was expected to see a further 10 hostages–women and children–released, but then Hamas reportedly failed to provide the list of names of hostages before the deadline. Sources told CNN and AFP that tense talks with Qatari and Egyptian mediators were ‘ongoing,’ despite the fighting.

Two hostages were released late Thursday afternoon, according to The Journal, and another six more at around midnight, including dual nationals from Mexico, Russia and Uruguay.

According to the Associated Press, 83 Israelis, including dual nationals, were freed during the truce.

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