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Palestinians flee homes as truce ends, rockets fired at Israel

Aug. 8, 2014 9:38 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2014 1:59 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- All Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have refused to extend a three-day truce with Israel, Hamas said Friday, as the ceasefire ended.

"All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have agreed not to renew the ceasefire because (Israel) is refusing to accommodate our demands, but negotiations continue in Cairo," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP.

A Palestinian official said Hamas and Islamic Jihad had agreed a ceasefire but then there was an alteration in wording of an agreement regarding the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

The official said members of the Palestinian delegation to the talks, which is led by a representative of President Mahmoud Abbas, would meet after noon to assess their stance.

Israel had said earlier that it was ready to "indefinitely" extend the ceasefire.

A senior Palestinian official accused Israel of procrastinating, warning it could lead to a resumption of the fighting when the deadline runs out.

"The Israeli delegation is proposing extending the ceasefire while refusing a number of the Palestinian demands," he said, without elaborating.

Thousands of Palestinians were fleeing their homes east of Gaza City on Friday in fear of Israeli attacks.

Open Gaza

Militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel minutes after the 72-hour truce between Hamas and Israel ended, the army said.

"Since 8 a.m. terrorists fired a barrage of at least five rockets at southern Israel. A rocket was intercepted over Ashkelon," a statement from the military read.

"Additional rockets hit open areas in southern Israel."

The Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigade, took responsibility for firing "three Grad rockets at Ashkelon" in a statement.

It also targeted Eshkol with four missiles and Kisufim with five 107 rockets.

The al-Nassar Salah al-Din Brigades said they fired two grad missiles at Ashkelon, and five rockets at Eshkol.

Al-Asifah, a military wing of Fatah, also claimed responsibility for targeting Ashkelon with three missiles.

Four weeks of bloodshed between Israel and Hamas killed 1,890 Palestinians, and 67 people on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers.

UN figures indicate that 73 percent of the Palestinian victims -- or 1,354 people -- were civilians. Of that number, at least 429 were children.

Speaking in Jerusalem after a visit to Gaza, Red Cross chief Peter Maurer said he was "deeply distressed and shocked" at the impact of violence, saying the scale of the civilian losses must not happen again.

And he suggested there may have been humanitarian law violations.

But Netanyahu stressed to Maurer that "every one of these civilian deaths is a tragedy" while blaming Hamas of "both targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians".

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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