Hamas military chief's wife and daughter (2) 'killed in fresh air strikes' in Gaza as ceasefire ends
Published 20/08/2014 | 02:30
A woman and child killed in a fresh Israeli airstrike are believed to be the wife and daughter of Hama military chief Mohammed Deif.
The girl (2) and two women were killed in the air strike on Gaza city last night believed to be targeting the Hamas military chief, according to Palestinian health officials.
Gaza suffered a new round of violence yesterday when Hamas broke a temporary ceasefire by firing five rockets at southern Israel and Israel retaliated with a series of air strikes.
The rockets were fired towards the southern Israeli town of Beersheba shortly before 4pm without inflicting any casualties. Israel immediately ordered a military response, with war planes striking targets in Gaza strip.
Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, said the rocket attack was a "grave and direct violation" of another 24-hour ceasefire agreed between Israel and Hamas during indirect talks in Cairo. Hamas said the chances of securing a peace deal were "evaporating".
Israel hit back with air strikes after the rockets were launched and announced the withdrawal of its team from the Cairo negotiations. As the strikes recommenced, people in Gaza began fleeing their homes again.
Witnesses said that thousands could be seen "carrying bags of clothes, pillows and mattresses", reported the AFP news agency.
Two children were wounded. After the breach of the ceasefire, one Hamas spokesman tacitly admitted the movement's responsibility.
"If Israel wants calm, it must accede to the demands and rights of the Palestinians," said Mushir al-Masri.
Another Hamas official later denied that any rockets had been fired, claiming Israel had staged the incident to "topple the negotiations in Cairo".
Col Peter Lerner, the spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces, said that by restarting its air strikes, Israel would hit "terror infrastructure" and eliminate "terror capabilities in the Gaza Strip".
Before the ceasefire's collapse, there had been reports of at least a partial agreement between Israel and the Palestinians at the Cairo talks.
But the two sides have starkly differing positions.
Hamas wants all restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza to be lifted.
Israel insists on the complete demilitarisation of the Palestinian territory.
Yet Mr Netanyahu is under pressure from public opinion and his cabinet to refuse any concessions to Hamas.
Less than 1pc of Jewish Israelis think the government should accede to Hamas's demands in return for a cessation of rocket fire, according to a poll sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University.
While 41pc think that Israel should agree to Hamas demands that do not compromise national security, 58pc think that Mr Netanyahu should refuse all concessions and continue the offensive until Hamas surrenders.
The prime minister has been criticised by his own ministers for sending officials to the Cairo talks.
"When you negotiate with terrorists, you get more terror," said Naftali Bennett, the economy minister. (©The Daily Telegraph London)