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Israel resumes Bombardment of Hamas after collapse of fragile truce

HomeTop NewsIsrael resumes Bombardment of Hamas after collapse of fragile truce

Israel resumes bombardment of Hamas in Gaza after accusing the militant group of violating the terms of a fragile week-long truce by launching rockets toward Israeli territory.

The Israeli military said its forces have resumed carrying out airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza, nearly eight days after agreeing to temporarily halt hostilities to allow for negotiations around the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

The resumption of fighting comes just hours after a deadline for extending the temporary truce expired early Friday with no deal in place. Israel had agreed to pause its bombardment of Gaza for one week to allow humanitarian aid into the territory and negotiations to continue around securing the release of six Israeli women and eight children abducted by Hamas militants in early October.

In exchange, Hamas agreed to halt rocket attacks into Israel. But the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on extending the truce beyond its November 25 expiration, prompting Israel’s security cabinet to authorize the military to restart combat operations at 7 a.m. local time Friday.

Moments after the deadline passed, air raid sirens sounded in communities bordering Gaza as militants fired a barrage of rockets toward Israeli cities. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted several of the incoming rockets, though some managed to slip through and strike Israeli towns.

The Israeli military said its initial targets included Hamas military compounds, rocket launching sites, and the homes of militant commanders. Plumes of smoke were seen rising above densely populated areas of Gaza as Israeli jets pounded targets across the 25-mile long coastal enclave. Hamas reportedly fired dozens more rockets in retaliation.

At least 32 Palestinians were killed in the initial hours of Israel’s resumed air and artillery campaign, Gaza health officials said. Israeli medics reported several people were hospitalized with light injuries from rocket shrapnel.

The halt in fighting had allowed badly needed humanitarian aid and fuel supplies to flow into Gaza, where severe shortages of food, clean water, and electricity have exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis sparked by nearly two months of war. Nearly 1 million Palestinians have been displaced by the ongoing violence.

Hopes had been high that Egyptian and Qatari mediators could broker a longer-term truce to halt fighting, but key differences remained around Israel’s core demand that Hamas release the Israeli hostages. The fate of two Israelis believed to be held by Hamas remains unknown, further complicating ceasefire efforts.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had showed its unwillingness to seriously engage in hostage talks by launching rockets at Israel after the truce deadline expired. He vowed Israel would continue prosecuting its military campaign until Hamas released all captives and could no longer threaten Israeli civilians.

Regional analysts say it remains unclear whether continued Egyptian and US diplomatic efforts can bring the two warring sides back from the brink. The Biden administration has faced growing pressure to help impose a more lasting ceasefire after repeated truce breakdowns. Prolonged fighting also risks further destabilizing the surrounding region.

Hamas accuses Israel of violating terms of temporary Gaza truce

Tensions had already been rising in the days leading up to the truce’s expiration as both sides accused the other of violating the terms of the temporary agreement.

Hamas officials had sharply criticized what they described as ongoing Israeli provocations during the period of calm. They cited several instances of Israeli troops opening fire at Palestinian protesters near the border fence separating Israel from Gaza during demonstrations against the Israeli blockade. Multiple Palestinians were reportedly killed or injured.

There was also an exchange of fire between militants and Israeli forces on Wednesday after the Israeli military said it observed a Hamas observation post monitoring its activities near the border. An Israeli tank fired warning shots toward the position when one militant refused orders to vacate the post, killing the man. Hamas responded with a salvo of anti-tank missiles, though no Israeli troops were injured.

Israeli leaders in turn accused Hamas of repeatedly breaking the truce by launching incendiary balloons rigged with explosive devices into Israeli territory. The military also said Hamas militants had continued attempting to repair tunnel networks destroyed in Israeli airstrikes intended for use in facilitating cross-border attacks.

On Friday morning, the Israeli military said Hamas fired a rocket toward the city of Ashkelon that activated warning sirens across communities bordering northern Gaza right before the ceasefire was slated to end. Iron Dome interceptors shot down the rocket. Hamas denied it was responsible.

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The rocket strike appears to have been the final straw prompting Israel to declare Hamas in breach of truce terms and restart offensive operations. Regional analysts say the next few days will be critical in determining whether the descend back into war can be halted.

Months of tensions erupt in wave of violence

The latest round of bloody clashes broke out on October 7 after Hamas militants infiltrated Israel through underground tunnels and launched simultaneous attacks on multiple civilian targets, including a crowded mall. At least 1,200 Israelis were killed in what was the deadliest single attack inside Israel since its founding in 1948.

In the chaos of the initial attack, Hamas gunman attacked a daycare center inside the mall, killing 21 children and four teachers before detonating their suicide vests as Israeli security forces closed in. Six Israeli women and eight children were also abducted and smuggled back through the tunnels to Gaza.

Outraged by the scale of the slaughter, Israel immediately launched devastating retaliatory airstrikes across Gaza while massing troops and tanks along the perimeter wall. After two weeks of intense aerial bombardment failed to stop Hamas rocket attacks or locate the missing Israelis, Israel launched a full scale ground invasion of Gaza on October 21.

Intense urban combat has killed at least 2,800 Palestinians over nearly seven weeks of fighting, according to health officials in Gaza. The UN estimates more than 450,000 Gazans have been displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Failed ceasefire attempts

Hopes for ending the bloodshed were first raised in late October when Hamas and Israeli officials hinted they were close to agreeing to a mutual ceasefire deal brokered by Egypt. But negotiations broke down after Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh demanded Israel first release Palestinian prisoners as a “gesture of good faith” before the group would commit to halting its rocket assaults and military operations.

On November 12, Egypt managed to convince both sides to agree to a 3-day humanitarian truce to pause the fighting and allow much needed aid and fuel into Gaza. But Israel withdrew from talks to extend the temporary ceasefire after Hamas refused to provide assurances about the condition or whereabouts of the missing Israelis.

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After mediation from Qatar and the US, indirect negotiations between continued for another two weeks, resulting in both sides agreeing on November 18 to the week-long truce that just expired. The pause was intended to buy more time for talks around Hamas’ main demand that Israel release hundreds of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons in exchange for information on the captive Israelis.

Israel has insisted it will not consider broader prisoner release negotiations until Hamas shows proof of life for the remaining missing Israelis believed to still be alive. Regional analysts say with progress halted on that core issue, negotiations were always on shaky ground.

Will escalation draw in regional powers?

While neither Israel nor Hamas have shown any signs of backing down in the current crisis, analysts say the conflict risks further destabilization if fighting continues to escalate.

Prolonged and heightened violence could draw regional powers like Iran, Qatar and Egypt into a more direct confrontation by proxy with Israel. It may also jeopardize Israel’s thawing relations with Gulf Arab states like the UAE and Bahrain.

Inside Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other political rivals have increased criticism of Netanyahu for failing to stabilize relations with the Palestinians and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control. But so far Netanyahu has largely maintained support for his handling of the crisis amid public outrage over the rising civilian death toll inside Israel.

Israel’s resumption of airstrikes and ground operations inside Gaza raises fears that another lengthy and bloody chapter in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict now lies ahead. The next few days will prove critical in determining whether the diplomatic framework set up with the help of the US and regional partners like Egypt and Qatar can survive this latest crisis and halt the region’s decent into further chaos.

Much rests on whether Hamas shows definitive proof that missing Israelis remain alive, while also halting rocket attacks. That could open the door for tough compromises around Palestinian prisoner releases. But if more civilians continue to perish as both sides opt for military force over negotiations, a lasting political solution may remain tantalizingly out of reach.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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