An interception of a rocket by the Iron Dome..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas renewed its rocket fire against Israel at exactly 8 a.m. Friday as the 72-hour cease fire-ended.
Jerusalem had hoped Hamas would agree to another 72 hour extension to allow time for Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams in Cairo to come to an agreement that would end Operation Protective Edge, which now enters its 32nd day.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his organization had rejected the idea of an extension, but would continue to negotiate.
Economic Affair Minister Naftali Bennett called on the government to pull its delegation out of the Cairo talks. It sends the wrong message to Hamas for Israel to negotiate under fire, he said, explaining that what was needed was a military response.
“Our response has to be harsh. Operation Protective Edge has not ended. Israeli citizens have to stand strong.”
The IDF said that 11 Gaza launched rockets and mortars had been fired into Israel in the first hour after the cease fire ended.
During that salvo, one rocket was shot down over Ashkelon and 7 more landed in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon region.
There was also a failed rocket strike that landed somewhere in the southern Gaza Strip the IDF Spokesperson's Office said.
In the Eshkol region there were at least three strikes reported Friday morning, and residents have been told to stay within 15 seconds of a safe room or bomb shelter. Four hours before the cease-fire ended, when it appeared that the Cairo talks would fail, two mortars from Gaza struck that region.
The IDF spokesperson's office would not say if the army had begun responding to the rocket fire yet and reports of explosions out of Gaza were inconclusive.
Already on Thursday Hamas had threatened to resume its attacks on Israel unless an agreement was reached in Cairo to lift the blockade of Gaza, including opening the seaport there to cargo ships.
Speaking at a Gaza rally, Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri advised tens of thousands of Israelis who had left their homes in the South not to return unless Netanyahu complied with Palestinian demands. The Hamas spokesman said Israel would fail to achieve in the political arena what it had failed to gain during the war.
“The war has not ended, and our fighters are still in the battlefield, and their fingers are still on the trigger,” he said. “Our rockets are also still directed toward Tel Aviv and Lod and beyond them. The tunnels are still alive and exist deep inside the Zionist entity.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, meanwhile, on Thursday characterized Palestinian warnings of renewed conflict as an “act of extortion,” and said Israel was “taking this into consideration and is prepared for any possibility.”
The Israeli government and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not immediately issue any statements.