Israeli army says 2 rockets fired from Gaza
JERUSALEM – Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip early Friday landing in empty fields in southern Israel just hours ahead of the expiration of the 72-hour ceasefire that ended a month of violence, the Israeli army said.
The rockets fell into an open area in southern Israel and caused no casualties, it added. There has been no immediate Israeli response.
No one claimed responsibility for the rockets and it was not clear if it was the Hamas group that had fired them. There are a number of militant groups in the crowded territory that operate outside the control of Hamas with rockets of their own.
The rockets threaten to unleash a new round of violence after a month of fighting that has claimed nearly 1,900 Palestinian lives with 67 deaths on the Israeli side.
Indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians have been taking place in Cairo to extend the cease-fire, but Hamas representatives had threatened to resume fighting if their demands to end the blockade on Gaza in place since 2007 were not met.
Israel has said that the militants must disarm first, a demand dismissed by Hamas.
The blockade, which Israel says is needed to prevent weapons from reaching Gaza, has led to widespread hardship in the Mediterranean seaside territory. Movement in and out of Gaza is limited, and the economy has ground to a standstill and unemployment is over 50 percent.
The war grew out of the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June. Israel blamed the killings on Hamas and launched a massive arrest campaign, rounding up hundreds of its members in the West Bank, as Hamas and other militants unleashed rocket fire from Gaza.
On July 8 Israel launched an air campaign on the coastal territory, sending in ground troops nine days later to target rocket launchers and cross-border tunnels built by Hamas for attacks inside Israel.