Following 3-Day Truce, Rocket Fire Resumes In Gaza
STVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Wow, Israel and Hamas's three-day cease-fire is over. Moments after it expired, a barrage of rockets left Gaza for Israel, and Israel fired back. NPR's Jackie Northam is in Jerusalem. She's covering the story. Hi, Jackie.
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: So is this a return to full-on warfare?
NORTHAM: You know, it's hard to tell. For the moment, things seemed to have quieted down, but the cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. local time, and within a couple of minutes, rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel. They were followed by a dozen more right after that. Israel says it intercepted two of them, but the others landed in open fields. But, you know, two Israelis were wounded by shrapnel. And in response, Israel launched a series of airstrikes in Gaza. And Palestinian health officials say a 10-year-old boy was killed north of Gaza city and at least 11 other people were injured elsewhere in Gaza. I spoke with Mark Regev who's a senior Israeli government official here, and he said its premature to say whether the - you know, this fighting this morning represents a return to war between the two sides. But we'll just have to wait and see.
INSKEEP: Still a little startling, though, because even though it was only a three-day cease-fire, it was widely presumed to be the end of this conflict. It was talked about in that sense, and there were supposed to be peace talks going on in Cairo. What's happened to those talks?
NORTHAM: Well, you're right. This cease-fire was brokered by Egypt, and they were acting as intermediary between Israel and Hamas. And the talks did take place over the course of three days. But, Steve, there are many demands from both sides. In essence, Israel wants Hamas demilitarized, and Hamas wants the end to a seven-year blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. Obviously, there was no agreement, and Hamas said it would not agree to extend the cease-fire unless its demand was met. And it seems now it's kept to that. And after the first rocket this morning, Israel said it's recalled its delegation and that the talks are now frozen.
INSKEEP: There was an Israeli statement, I think, about not negotiating while under fire. But there was 72 hours of relative quiet. What was life like during that time?
NORTHAM: People were just getting back to normal, certainly, here in Israel and, from all accounts, in Gaza as well. You know, the war between Hamas and Israel just dragged on, and I think there was just great hope in Gaza and here in Israel that this cease-fire would hold. Several others had fallen apart. I was just down in southern Israel a couple of days ago, and I visited a farming community right along the Gaza border. And most of the Israeli residents had fled. They evacuated during the month-long war. You know, they were just returning home and trying to get their lives back together again. And the people I spoke with felt that the conflict was over and that this cease-fire would hold. And now, of course, with the fighting today, that just doesn't seem as certain.
INSKEEP: Jackie, thanks very much, as always.
NORTHAM: Thanks very much, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Jackie Northam in Jerusalem, speaking with us on this day in which a three-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has expired. Hamas fired rockets into Israel. Israel has fired back. The long-term implications are unclear.
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