Middle East

Hamas fires rockets into Israel after Gaza truce bid

Media captionThe BBC's Ian Pannell: "Dozens of bodies were recovered from the rubble"

Hamas militants say they have fired several rockets into Israel, rejecting an offer to extend a 12-hour ceasefire in its Gaza operation until 21:00 GMT.

Hamas said it wanted a complete stop to fighting - accusing Israel of using the truce to prepare more attacks.

The Israeli cabinet is considering a UN request for a 24-hour pause.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 42 Israelis, two of them civilians, have been killed since Israel launched the Gaza offensive.

About 5,900 Palestinians have been wounded in the 19 days of fighting, Gaza health officials say.

After the Hamas rockets were fired into Israel, many people in Gaza would now be bracing themselves for Israeli strikes, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Jerusalem reports.


The original truce expired at 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT). Gazans had been using the pause to recover bodies and gather supplies.

Image caption Some parts of Gaza are completely destroyed
Image caption Many Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes
Image caption Israel says its ground offensive is necessary to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel
Image caption In Tel Aviv, a rally was held in support of the Israeli military operation
Image caption Palestinian fighters have been firing rockets from Gaza into Israel

A senior Israeli official told the BBC that the UN had requested a 24-hour extension to the ceasefire.

"At the first stage, the cabinet approved, in a phone vote, four more hours until midnight, in order to allow the cabinet to convene and discuss the UN's request," the official said.

"The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] maintains the humanitarian pause, during which, the IDF's activity to neutralise the [Hamas] tunnels will continue."

But Hamas spokesman Ehab el-Hussein told the BBC the extension had been rejected for several reasons.

He said Hamas had been asking for a complete stop to fighting with the end of the Gaza blockade.

He also accused Israel of using previous ceasefires to prepare more attacks, claimed that there had been truce violations during the day and stressed that the scale of the destruction caused by Israel's offensive had become apparent and was a "game-changer".

The IDF told the BBC that three mortars were fired from Gaza and hit Israel in the Eshkol regional council shortly after 20:00 local time. It also said three rockets were launched into Israel. Sirens have been sounding in Israel.

Media captionTear gas was fired at demonstrators
Media captionGovernment spokesman Mark Regev said Israel was ultimately seeking "peace and quiet"

Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said they had fired five short-range and two longer-range missile into Israel.

After talks in the French capital, Paris, foreign ministers from the US, Turkey, Qatar and several European countries urged both sides to extend the truce.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC it was vital to get "the ceasefire to roll over... again and again, until we've established the level of confidence that allows the parties to sit round a table to talk around the substantive issues".

In other developments:

  • Some 5,000 pro-Palestinian protesters rallied in Paris; about 50 were arrested during clashes with police
  • Thousands took part in a protest in London against Israel's military campaign in Gaza
  • The UK's Department for International Development (Dfid) said it would send £2m ($3.39m) of additional assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) in Gaza
  • Egypt said it had summoned Turkey's highest-ranking diplomat in the country over comments made by Turkish leader Recep Erdogan. In an interview on Thursday, Mr Erdogan said Egypt did "not have a sincere approach to the Palestine issue" and described Egypt's president as a "tyrant"

Israel launched its military offensive with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.

It also began a ground offensive on 18 July, saying it was necessary to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.