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As Cease-Fire Reaches Its Close, Fire Reignites In Gaza


The three-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended today and the fighting resumed. Negotiators in Cairo had hoped to extend the deal. But Israel says rockets were fired from Gaza even before the clock ran out on the cease-fire. And the death toll, now more than 1,800 Palestinians and over 60 Israelis, is climbing again. NPR's Alice Fordham joins us now from Gaza. And Alice, what's the latest?

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Well, as you say, you know, things were very tense this morning, as the cease-fire was due to end. And then we started hearing, about 4 o'clock this morning that two rockets had landed inside Israeli territory. Now, all the groups inside Gaza deny this. But since the cease-fire officially ended at 8 o'clock, then many rockets have landed inside Israel. Israeli forces actually say that 57 have landed during the course of the day.

CORNISH: And how much damage has been done?

FORDHAM: Well, they didn't do a huge amount of physical damage inside Israel. It was more sort of symbolically significant. One of them did land on a civilian home, which was empty. One hit a local municipal building, which injured a civilian and a soldier. Israel has responded with airstrikes here, as we've been able to hear during the course of the day. They say in a statement that they're targeting Hamas operatives and infrastructure and that they have struck 51 targets and killed three operatives. Now, the Palestinian Health Ministry says that five people have been killed - among them, a 10-year-old boy who was playing in this neighborhood, just north of Gaza City here.

CORNISH: So what does this mean for the peace talks? Are they over?

FORDHAM: It would seem with the resumption of hostilities that it would make it less likely for the peace talks to be, you know, immediately successful. But no, they're not necessarily over. Israel does say that it has brought its delegation back from Cairo - that it doesn't negotiate under fire. But there's been statements on Hamas media during the course of the day that the negotiations are still ongoing. That the Palestinian delegation is still talking with Egyptian mediators. And perhaps significantly, Hamas itself hasn't taken responsibility for any of the rocket strikes. Now, all of this suggests that Hamas is using this more as a sort of pressure tactic - this barrage of rockets - than really, you know, putting an end to the peace talks and giving up on them. But, of course, with the tendency that things have to escalate here, that is quite a risky strategy.

CORNISH: Alice, what's been the reaction from people there in Gaza?

FORDHAM: Well, you know, understandably, they're really upset. You know people had hoped there would be a cease-fire agreement with some movement on long-standing Gazan demands - what people see as reasonable, with more movement of goods and people across the borders between Gaza and Israel and even Gaza and Egypt. People are scared, you know? The resumption of airstrikes is terrifying for civilians here. A lot of people who had gone home from U.N. shelters came back this morning. You know, people say that they wouldn't want Hamas to stop fighting until they've made some achievement in the negotiations. But there's also a deep weariness with this month of conflict. In addition to the threat from airstrikes, that there are so many daily complications to life here, you know? There's a lack of power. There's a lack of water. There are people living several families to a room. So many houses are destroyed. People really want to just start with this grim business of rebuilding.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Alice Fordham in Gaza. Alice, thank you.

FORDHAM: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.
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