Israeli strike kills Gaza commander's wife, child

Gaza City - Hamas said on Wednesday that an Israeli air strike killed the wife and child of its Gaza military chief, as a temporary ceasefire went up in smoke and Cairo truce talks froze.

"The wife of the great leader was martyred with his daughter," in a strike on Tuesday night, Hamas's exiled deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk wrote on Facebook while saying nothing about the fate of Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades commander Mohammed Deif himself.

The Israeli military said it hit "more than 25 targets" in Gaza Tuesday but would not elaborate.

Tuesday's deaths of the woman and a two-year-old girl were the first as a result of Israeli air raids in Gaza since 10 August.

In a strike on Wednesday morning on the southern Gaza town of Deir el-Balah a pregnant woman, three children and two men were killed, all members of the Aloah family, emergency services said.

They said that the woman was nine months pregnant but medics were unable to save the foetus.

More than a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas has killed at least 2 026 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since 8 July.

Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said Israel had "opened the gates of hell on itself" by the killings and warned that the Jewish state would "pay the price for its crimes".

A 24-hour truce due to last until midnight (2100 GMT) collapsed late on Tuesday afternoon, with each side blaming the other

The al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that it fired 34 rockets into Israel throughout Tuesday, hitting Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheva.

An Israeli military statement put the number fired at "about 50" but reported no casualties.

"A rocket hit an open area in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area," it said and confirmed that two rockets landed near Beersheva, which is home to around 200 000 Israelis.

Air raid sirens were also heard in Jerusalem, with Hamas claiming a rocket attack on the city.

Police said it appeared that a rocket fell on empty ground in the occupied West Bank, outside Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a new round of air strikes on Gaza and recalled his negotiators from Egyptian-mediated ceasefire talks in Cairo.

"The rocket fire which broke the ceasefire also destroyed the foundation on which the talks in Cairo were based," Netanyahu spokesperson Mark Regev told AFP early on Wednesday.

"The Egyptian initiative is based on a total and unconditional cessation of hostilities, which was clearly broken when rockets were fired into Israel."

'Ceasefire has broken down'

Palestinian delegation head Azzam al-Ahmed said that his team would leave Cairo on Wednesday.

"We are leaving...but we have not pulled out of negotiations," he told AFP, adding the Palestinians were waiting for Israel to respond to their truce proposal.

"We will not come back [to Cairo] until Israel responds," he said.

The fighting shattered nine days of relative quiet in the skies over Gaza.

A senior Hamas official, Ezzat al-Rishq, warned Israel it would "not enjoy security so long as the Palestinian people do not".

But Israel's US ally put the blame squarely on the group itself.

"Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza... Rocket fire came from Gaza," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said.

"As of right now, with today's developments, we are very concerned and it is our understanding the ceasefire has broken down."

The renewal of Israeli air strikes spread panic among Gaza residents.

An AFP reporter saw hundreds of Palestinians streaming out of Shejaiya, an eastern area of Gaza City which has been devastated by more than a month of fighting between Israel and the militant Islamist Hamas movement.

More poured out of the Zeitun and Shaaf areas, alarmed by a series of explosions and heading to shelter in UN schools, local witnesses said.

Bomb shelters opened in Israel

In Israel the army said that it ordered that public bomb shelters within 80km of the Gaza border, be opened ready for use.

That includes Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Israel has vowed not to negotiate under fire, and Netanyahu has pledged "a very strong response" to any resumption of rocket attacks.

The Cairo talks centre on an Egyptian proposal that meets some Palestinian demands, such as easing Israel's eight-year blockade on Gaza, but puts off debate on other thorny issues until later.

Amnesty International renewed an appeal for access to Gaza.

"Valuable time has already been lost," it said.

Egypt's proposal calls for both sides to immediately stop shooting and includes provisions relating to opening the borders to allow for free movement of people, goods and construction materials, as well as a clause on regulating the economic crisis within the impoverished enclave.

But crucially, it postpones discussions on issues such as a port and airport for another month, until "after calm and stability returns," along with talks over exchanging the remains of two Israeli soldiers for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Shireen Abbas Davids 2014/08/20 10:48:01 AM
Funny how u make a story about hamas leader wife yet daily nothing of all the 100s of wifes and children murdered there by israel attacks ! Biased much ?! Non the less frm Allah we come and to Allah is our return. U in my Dua's
Piet Petro Van Staaden 2014/08/20 10:53:05 AM
Who does the Land of Israel belong to?? An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile. A representative from Israel began: "Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses: When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath!' Moses removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Palestinian had stolen them!" The Palestinian representative at the UN jumped up furiously and shouted, "What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren't there then." The Israeli representative smiled and said, "And now that you have made that clear, I will begin my speech."
Laura De Villiers Kenigsberg 2014/08/20 10:54:37 AM
I wonder where Dief was?? Oh, in the underground bunkers!! Sad he forgot his family behind!
Naeem Dollie 2014/08/20 10:57:32 AM
The slaughter continues. Well played Netanyahu!
Emma Sanderson 2014/08/20 11:01:09 AM
Stop firing rockets then. It is like putting your hand in the fire and blaming the fire for the fact that your hand is burning?
James Uknow 2014/08/20 11:09:35 AM
I have been careful about judging Hamas ,but Israel continous deliberate killing of civillians especially children shows that the terrorist are in fact the Israelie government ,how people can openly support the killing of civillians is disgusting ,Israel should be classed the same as Syrian government ,Egypt ,and they are just as bad as other Arab countries when it comes to human rights
Maghmoeda Galant 2014/08/20 11:59:28 AM
Freaking Israel, British and American intelligence whoever you may be, just grant the people of Palestine ‘’their’’ land and freedom to live in peace! This war was started by Israel years ago. Israel is not the victim here (as always portrayed in the media as planned). Israel is the greedy perpetrator who have acquired the guns, bombs from you know who, and has been training their soldiers with the intention of wiping out ANYONE who stands in their way of gaining full control of the land and sea and anything else that has value. Pure GREED leads to Pure EVIL!!! And for all you Islam haters out there, this is not Islam, it has nothing to do with Islam, It is NOT about religion, it is about greed and control. Israel creates terror organization to keep up the facade that Israel is always the victim. They created Hamas! We are Muslims, we are against the killing of all mankind. ‘’ it is He Who gives life and gives death’’
Celeste 2014/08/20 12:06:13 PM
Terrible Journalism again N24. You are supposed to report on the event, not your opinion of it.
Makhulu Zulu 2014/08/20 12:13:39 PM
Sies Israel. Can't you find Hamas? You go after their families like a sissy. Panzi Israel.
Mark Aldridge 2014/08/20 12:57:54 PM
Two wrongs dont make a right...that is the lesson here which neither side seems to grasp...the fact that Israel is killing mostly civilians makes there case very weak...killing civilians does not get rid of Hamas but fuels the fire for it to expand...Israel is adding wood to a fire not water