Deadly fighting resumes in Gaza as truce expires

GAZA STRIP/ GENEVA  -  Intense fighting erupted once again in Gaza on Friday as a week-long truce expired and Israel resumed its deadly bombardment of suspected Hamas positions in the densely inhabited Palestinian territory.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip said 29 people had been killed in the first hours after the pause in hostilities ended at 0500 GMT. An AFPTV live camera feed showed an explosion and large grey cloud rising over northern Gaza. Israel’s army said its warplanes were “striking” Hamas targets in Gaza, where AFP journalists reported bombings in the north and south. Combat resumed shortly after Israel’s army said it had intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza, the first from the territory since a missile launched minutes into the start of the truce on November 24.

A source close to Hamas told AFP the group’s armed wing had received “the order to resume combat” and to “defend the Gaza Strip”, with heavy fighting reported in parts of Gaza City. In Khan Yunis, a group of men chanted “God is greatest” as they rushed through the streets carrying a body wrapped in a white shroud.The “war has returned, even more fierce”, Anas Abu Dagga, 22, told AFP at a hospital in the city in southern Gaza. In Israel, sirens warning of potential missiles sounded in several communities near Gaza, and authorities said they were restarting security measures in the area including closing schools.

Qatar, which helped to broker the trace with diplomatic support from the US and Egypt, called for the violence to stop. Its foreign ministry said the bombing “complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip” and it urged “the international community to move quickly to stop the violence”.

were fleeing their homes and rushing their dead and wounded to hospitals after fresh Israeli strikes on Friday, as combat resumed between Israel and Hamas following the expiry of a week-long truce.

An agreement on extending the pause in fighting -- under which aid flows into Gaza had increased and scores of Israeli hostages were exchanged for hundreds of jailed Palestinian prisoners -- could not be reached before the 7:00 am (0500 GMT) deadline, with hostilities resuming immediately. Smoke billowed over the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis following Israeli strikes, with deaths recorded in both places, according to hospital officials and AFP journalists at the scene.

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