A weeklong ceasefire in the Gaza Strip collapsed on Friday, with both Israel and Hamas blaming the other for the breakdown of the fragile truce that had allowed for the exchange of scores of hostages and prisoners. Hostilities resumed almost immediately: Shortly before the truce expired at 7am local time, Israel said it had intercepted a projectile fired from Gaza.
Moments after the deadline passed, Israel announced that it was restarting military operations.
Hamas said that it had offered to release more hostages, including older people, but that Israel had made “a prior decision to resume the criminal aggression.” Israel said Hamas had failed to release as many hostages from Gaza as it had promised. Hamas released eight hostages on Thursday, two fewer than expected. Israel also accused Hamas of refusing to release all the women it held. A Palestinian official said the breakdown occurred over female Israeli soldiers.
Key mediator Qatar said negotiations were still going on with Israelis and Palestinians to restore the truce, but that Israel’s renewed bombardment of Gaza had complicated its efforts. A total of 105 hostag es were freed during the weeklong ceasefire, including two dozen foreign nationals, in exchange for Israel’s release of 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Within hours of the truce expiring, Gaza officials reported that 109 people had been killed and dozens wounded in air strikes. Israel military said its ground, air and naval forces had struck over 200 of what it called “terror targets” since morning. Defence minister Yoav Gallant said he had been in one of Israel’s war jets during the assault to watch it up close. “Hamas only understands force and therefore we will continue to act until we achieve the goals of the war.” The bombing was most intense in Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where Gazans have been sheltering from fighting further north. The military dropped leaflets over an area east of the city of Khan Younis, asking residents to flee for their safety.