Jerusalem, Dec. 1 (EFE).- Fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas on Friday morning after seven days of truce that allowed the release of some hostages captured by the Islamist group in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
Israel accused Hamas of breaking the truce.
“Hamas violated the operational pause, and in addition, fired toward Israeli territory. The IDF has resumed combat against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement.
Shortly before 6 am local time (04:00 GMT), anti-aircraft sirens were activated in Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip.
“Following the initial report regarding sirens sounded in Kibbutz Holit, a number of launches were identified from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory. The launches were not intercepted according to protocol,” the IDF said.
“IDF fighter jets are now attacking targets of the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”
Gaza’s interior ministry, controlled by Hamas, said that Israeli aircraft were flying over the Strip and their vehicles opened fire in the northwest of the enclave.
According to Palestinian media, the Israeli attacks cover the north and south of the Palestinian enclave, including residential areas, and have already caused fresh casualties.
In addition, Hamas militants confronted Israeli ground forces on Salah al-Din Road, which has served as the evacuation route for displaced people moving from the north to the south of the Strip.
Thursday was the seventh and final day of a truce negotiated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States through an agreement that included the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the entry of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
In total, 105 hostages were released in Gaza, including 81 Israelis and 24 foreigners, and 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, all of them women and children.
The agreement, which came into force on Nov. 24, paused the war that began on Oct. 7 after an assault by the armed wing of Hamas that killed 1,200 people and resulted in the kidnapping of another 240 from Israeli villages near the Gaza Strip.
Up until the temporary truce, Israeli forces carried out a relentless military offensive by air, land and sea on the Palestinian enclave that has killed more than 15,000 people, with thousands more buried under the rubble, and almost 2 million people displaced amid a severe humanitarian crisis with the collapse of hospitals and a shortage of shelter, drinking water, food, medicine and electricity.
During an official visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called on Israel not to resume its military offensive in the Gaza Strip unless it first established a concrete plan to protect Palestinian civilians.
In a televised press conference in Tel Aviv, he said the plan should be put in place “by clearly and precisely designating areas and places in southern and central Gaza, where they can be safe and out of the line of fire” to avoid further “significant displacement of civilians inside Gaza” as well as “damage to life (or) critical infrastructure like hospitals, like power stations, like water facilities.”
“I underscored the imperative of the United States that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale that we saw in Northern Gaza not be repeated in the South,” Blinken said.
Qatar was working together with its regional and international partners to reach a permanent ceasefire amid increasing international pressure to do so. EFE