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Sirens blared in southern Israel as its aerial defense system shot down rocketfire from Gaza one hour before truce set to end.
Fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas early Friday morning, ending the week-long truce as no immediate sign of a deal to extend the ceasefire for an eighth day was reached.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) announced that it had resumed combat operations against the Hamas terror group, accusing it of breaching the ceasefire.
“Hamas violated the operational pause and, in addition, fired toward Israeli territory,” the Israeli military said Friday. “The IDF has resumed combat against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.”
Sirens blared in southern Israel about an hour before the ceasefire was due to end, with the IDF reporting that its aerial defense system “successfully intercepted a launch from Gaza.”
A second round of rocket fire was reported a few minutes before the end of the ceasefire, according to the IDF.
According to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior in Gaza, IDF forces began firing into northwest Gaza, the focus of Israel’s ground offensive, shortly after the truce expired. The ministry reported Israeli airstrikes hitting southern Gaza, including the community of Abassan east of the town of Khan Younis.
The deal ended after a week of negotiations and several extensions, despite global pressure to maintain the temporary ceasefire for an extended duration.
Egyptian and Qatari negotiators had been pushing to extend the pause in fighting in Gaza for an extra two days to facilitate the release of further hostages and Palestinian prisoners and to allow more aid into the strip, according to Egypt’s State Information Service.
Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that a condition of any extension to the pause in fighting is that Hamas must release 10 Israeli women and children held hostage per day. Then, the fighting will resume, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Even as Qatari and Egyptian negotiators pushed for another deal to exchange more hostages for prisoners, on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made clear that its forces should be prepared to resume full-scale war “at any point.”
“We should be prepared for a quick transition into full-scale fighting at any point, today, tomorrow, at any moment. As soon as we maximize the move to return hostages, we will resume fierce fighting across the whole Gaza Strip,” Mr. Gallant said.
The Israeli defense minister has said Israel’s goal is to “destroy” Hamas and return all hostages abducted during the group’s deadly rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
“We will fight in the entire Strip,” Mr. Gallant said this week.
On Thursday, Hamas also asked its terrorist fighters to maintain a high-combat readiness posture.
On Friday, Israel released another group of Palestinian prisoners, hours after the Hamas terrorist group freed additional Israeli hostages under a last-minute agreement to extend their cease-fire by another day in Gaza.
During the seven-day operational pause, Hamas’s hostages were consistently traded for Palestinian prisoners.
This has seen Hamas free 80 Israeli women and children, some of whom are dual citizens and another 24 foreign nationals. Additionally, another Israeli dual citizen was also freed outside of the agreed-upon deal.
As of Thursday, 240 Palestinians had been freed from Israeli prisons, mostly women and minors convicted or facing trial in Israel for various crimes.
The Biden administration, which supports Israel’s right to defend itself, has also cautioned Prime Minister Netanyahu against repeating its wide assault in the enclave’s north in the southern part, where millions of Palestinians now take refuge.
The ceasefire allowed hundreds of trucks carrying aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza. The trucks carried food, water, medicine, shelter supplies, fuel, and cooking gas via Egypt, near the enclave’s south. This week, the White House also said that aid has reached northern Gaza, the focus of the fighting, for the first time.
According to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, over 13,000 Palestinians have been killed. Approximately two-thirds of them have been women and minors, according to the group.
Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 Israelis during their surprise rampage on Oct. 7, which triggered the war.