(Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
A truce in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas collapsed Tuesday after the Palestinian militant group fired rockets at Israel, which retaliated by launching air strikes at terrorist targets.
Israel has reportedly recalled its negotiators from long-term peace talks in Cairo, France 24 reported. Both sides are accusing each other for the collapse of the truce, which had allowed humanitarian groups to provide some relief to the civilians trapped in the crossfire.
Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of a joint-Palestinian delegation in Cairo, said that "the ceasefire has collapsed and Israel is responsible."
Israel spokesman Mark Regev rejected the claim, however, and said that rockets from Gaza "made continuation of talks impossible." Regev added that the rocket fire was "a grave and direct violation of the ceasefire."
The Jewish state noted that militants fired three rockets into Israel eight hours before a truce was set to expire on Tuesday. The rockets were aimed at a number of cities, with one hitting open land in the greater Tel Aviv area, though there have been no reports of casualties.
Israeli aircraft then launched 35 strikes at Gaza, with one hitting a house in Gaza City and causing the death of a woman and a 2-year-old girl, hospital officials said.
The BBC reported Wednesday that the woman and child killed by Israeli airstrikes were the wife and daughter of Hamas' military commander Mohammed Deif, who has not been found among the dead.
Israel had targeted a senior Hamas official in the attack, Reuters noted, though declined to comment on the particular home that was hit.
The militant group said that following the Israeli airstrikes, it launched another 40 rockets at Israel, targeting Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area.
Witnesses in Jerusalem said that they heard several explosions shortly after warning sirens sounded, while a police spokesman said that a car was damaged in Tel Aviv, but there was no significant damage immediately reported.
"Police have stepped up patrols in response to the wave of rocket fire," spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry has said that close to 2,019 people have died in Gaza since the start of the war on July 8. Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the offensive.
While Hamas has blamed Israeli aggression for the high civilian death toll, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that militants are using "human shields" and are hiding out in residential areas while launching their attacks.
Netanyahu has also warned that any long-term truce deal will depend on Israel completing its mission of neutralizing terror threats in Gaza, which it says pose a direct threat to Israeli citizens.
"The operation will continue until we complete its aims — the return of quiet for a continuous period of time," Netanyahu has said.
Hamas, on the other hand, has demanded the lifting of an economic blockade on Gaza which it says has made life extremely difficult there.
Several short-term ceasefires had been agreed to during the past month in hopes for the Cairo talks to produce long-term peace, which were backed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, but it is not clear if or when such talks will resume.
Egypt has not yet commented on the collapse of the latest ceasefire.