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Friday, August 8, 2014
Israel and Hamas Fail to Reach Gaza Deal
GAZA CITY--A 72-hour cease-fire in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas expired Friday after negotiators in Cairo failed to reach a deal to extend it.
As the truce formally ended at 8 a.m. local time, warning sirens rang in several towns and cities in southern Israel. Five rockets were fired from Gaza, with one intercepted above the city of Ashkelon, the Israeli military said.
Four hours before the cease-fire lapsed, two rockets from the Gaza Strip crashed into Israel, the military said. There were no injuries.
Hamas representatives to the Egyptian-mediated indirect talks were holding out for a lifting of Israel's economic embargo on Gaza as a condition for continuing the cease-fire.
Hamas's military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said hours earlier it was ready to resume fighting if Palestinian demands weren't met.
In a statement, it threatened to shut down air traffic at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, unless Israel agreed to the construction of a seaport in the coastal strip.
Israel had agreed to extend the three-day cease-fire unconditionally. Egyptian mediators were attempting to soften Hamas's demands, saying that the insistence on a seaport, like Israel's push for the demilitarization of Gaza, should be discussed as part of a broader settlement and not as part of a truce deal.
As the three-day cease-fire expired, the status of the talks was unclear.
The truce was the longest pause in fighting that has so far killed 1,875 Palestinians and 67 Israelis, including three civilians, since the war started on July 8, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.