Israel, Palestine resume strikes

Israel’s PM has warned Hamas to stop its rocket firing and honour a ceasefire.

FILE: Smoke billows from buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City early on 10 July 2014. Picture: AFP.

GAZA/JERUSALEM - Israel resumed air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, six hours after agreeing to an Egyptian-proposed truce that failed to halt Hamas rocket attacks.

"Hamas has fired 47 rockets since we suspended our strikes in Gaza (this morning). As a result, we have resumed our operation against Hamas," an Israeli military statement said.

The plan calls for unconditional acceptance of the truce by both sides within the next 12 hours, followed by the opening of Gaza's border crossings and talks in Cairo within two days.

No one is quite sure of what's going on at the moment, they don't seem to know if there's a ceasefire or not. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening that if Hamas is continuing with its rocket fire, Israel will intensify its operation.

Hamas's armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire, saying its battle with Israel would "increase in ferocity and intensity".

But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official who was in Cairo, had said the movement, which is seeking a deal that would ease border restrictions imposed by both Egypt and Israel, had made no final decision on the proposal.

Speaking in Vienna, US Secretary of State John Kerry supported Israel: "I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets, in multiple numbers, in the face of a goodwill effort (to secure) a ceasefire."

Gaza health officials said at least 184 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in eight days of fighting, the worst Israel-Palestinian flare-up in two years.

An Israeli official, speaking as the Israeli strikes resumed, said: "The prime minister and the defence minister have ordered the Israeli armed forces to take powerful action against terrorist targets in Gaza."

Other Palestinian militant groups - Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine - also said they had not yet agreed to the Egyptian offer.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who reached an agreement with Hamas in April that led to the formation of a unity government last month, urged acceptance of the proposal, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

Hamas has faced a cash crisis and Gaza's economic hardship has deepened as a result of Egypt's destruction of cross-border smuggling tunnels. Cairo accuses Hamas of aiding anti-government Islamist militants in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, an allegation the Palestinian group denies.

Hamas has said it also wants the release of hundreds of its activists arrested in the West Bank while Israel searched for the three missing teens.

The proposed truce also made no mention of the detainees.