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August 8th, 2014
04:49 AM ET

Cease-Fire Ends, Fighting Returns

Israel reported rocket fire from Gaza on Friday as a three-day cease-fire in the region came to an end without an agreement to extend it.

More than 18 rockets were fired at Israel after the 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. Friday (1 a.m. ET), the Israel Defense Forces said. Two of the rockets were intercepted, 14 hit open areas and two came down in Gaza, the IDF said.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that holds power in Gaza, said that Palestinian officials at talks in Cairo hadn't agreed to extend the truce but would continue negotiations.

But Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that the resumption of rocket fire means Hamas has "broken the fundamental premise of the talks in Cairo." Israel had said Thursday it was willing to extend the truce unconditionally.

Two militant factions who have fought alongside Hamas in Gaza, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, said they had fired rockets at Israel on Friday.

It wasn't immediately clear how the Israeli military would respond to the rocket fire. The IDF pulled its ground forces out of Gaza on Tuesday but said they were maintaining "defensive positions" around the territory.

Roughly three hours before the truce was due to end, the IDF said two rockets fired from Gaza had hit southern Israel, without causing any casualties. "Terrorists have violated the cease-fire," the IDF wrote on Twitter.

It was unclear who in Gaza, where multiple militant factions are active, launched the two rockets, which landed near Eshkol in southern Israel.

Hamas denies responsibility for the rockets fired before the cease-fire ended, said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the group. The allegations "are based on Israeli reports aimed at confusing the situation," the Gaza-based spokesman said.

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August 5th, 2014
05:08 AM ET

Israel Pulls Out of Gaza During Cease-Fire

The Israeli military said Tuesday that it has withdrawn its ground troops from Gaza for a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the conflict with Hamas.

"We have no forces within Gaza," Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN.

Israel is implementing the Egyptian-brokered truce, which took effect Tuesday morning, from "defensive positions" outside Gaza, the IDF said.

Israeli officials had previously indicated they were winding down their ground operation in Gaza, which was aimed at demolishing Hamas' network of tunnels that extends under the border.

The Israeli military said Tuesday it had destroyed 32 of the tunnels, some of which were used by militants to launch attacks on Israeli soil during the four-week conflict.

Officials from the United Nations and United States, who have been pushing for a cease-fire for weeks, hope that the three-day pause will allow negotiations to take place for a more lasting peace.

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In Gaza, Safe Havens Appear to be Anything but Safe
July 31st, 2014
04:55 AM ET

In Gaza, Safe Havens Appear to be Anything but Safe

Mangled limbs wrapped in blood-stained rags were strewn across rooms in the school.

Run by the United Nations, the building was meant to be a refuge for more than 3,000 civilians fleeing the deadly conflict raging between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

But shells hit it in the early morning hours as those inside slept, punching huge holes in the roof and killing at least 20 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

"We saw the shells when they hit and shrapnel was falling like rain," said Sanaa abu Gerard, a woman who witnessed the blasts. "I was so scared and the school filled with smoke. We poured water in our eyes just to see."

The deadly strike Wednesday underscores growing concerns that in Gaza, where fighting is taking place in densely populated areas, safe havens appear to be anything but safe.

It's the sixth time a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been struck in the current conflict, intensifying questions about the tactics being used by both sides in areas crowded with civilians.

"People who go to these places expect that they go there because they will be safe," said Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner-general for UNRWA. "And here is the confirmation that it appears that there is nowhere where you can be safe."

The United Nations said it thinks the rounds that hit the school, in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, were fired by Israeli artillery. The Israeli military said it is reviewing what happened, acknowledging that it exchanged fire with militants in the area.

See the latest on "Early Start" at 5am ET.

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July 30th, 2014
06:21 AM ET

Poll: Most Israelis Don't Want a Cease-Fire

While the vast majority of casualties are Palestinians in Gaza, Israel continues to ward off rocket attacks from Gaza with its Iron Dome missile defense system. Israeli officials say they are committed to destroying tunnels used by Palestinian militants in Gaza to make their way into Israel.

A poll released this week showed 86.5% of Jewish Israelis surveyed say Israel cannot accept a cease-fire because "Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered," according to the Jerusalem Post.

But Israel's incursion into Gaza has had ripple effects around the world. Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador have pulled their ambassadors out of Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli offensive.

It's unclear how many in Gaza want militants to stop rocket attacks.

Last month, a poll by the Washington Institute for Near East policy found most Palestinians in Gaza oppose a two-state solution and want to work toward a five-year goal of abolishing Israel. But the majority said they support nonviolent methods of "popular resistance."

Most Israelis support a two-state solution, according to a poll by the Dialog Institute, Haaretz reported.

See the latest on this story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel
July 29th, 2014
06:59 AM ET

CNN Reporter's Close Call in Gaza

A large blast rocks a Gaza City building, forcing CNN's Karl Penhaul to dive for cover.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel
July 21st, 2014
05:55 AM ET

Heavy Fighting in Gaza as Death Toll Rises Above 500

Fierce fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants continued near Gaza City on Monday as the death toll from the conflict rose above 500.

Heavy bombardment hit areas east of the city, particularly the neighborhood of Shaja'ia, where a large Israeli assault Sunday contributed to the deadliest day of the war so far.

As clashes escalated over the weekend, Hamas said it had captured an Israeli soldier - a claim Israel later denied.

With no sign of either side backing down in a conflict in which most of the victims have been civilians, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in Egypt on Monday to push for a cease-fire.

Speaking to CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday Kerry said that the United States supports Egypt's initiative for a truce and "will work for a fair cease-fire."

The United States has "shown our willingness to try to deal with the underlying issues," but Hamas "must step up and show a level of reasonableness," he said.

"No country, no human being, is comfortable with children being killed, with people being killed, but we're not comfortable with Israeli soldiers being killed either or with people being rocketed in Israel," Kerry said.

Follow this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Israel-Gaza conflict
July 18th, 2014
03:34 AM ET

Hamas Warns of 'Heavy Price' for Israel

Deadly clashes broke out after Israeli tanks drove into Gaza and launched a ground operation that escalates the conflict with Hamas.

The incursion Thursday night follows 10 days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has killed more than 250 people. Israel launched the aerial offensive last week, saying it aimed to halt the firing of Hamas rockets from Gaza into Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered the ground operation to destroy tunnels dug from Gaza into Israeli territory, according to a statement.

Thirteen Hamas militants used a tunnel earlier Thursday to launch an attempted attack in Sufa, near an Israeli kibbutz, but were stopped by Israeli soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF said it had sent a "large" force into Gaza that includes infantry, tanks, artillery, combat engineers and intelligence units, with aerial and naval support.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Mark Regev, Netanyahu's spokesman, whether Israel planned to occupy Gaza for a long time.

Regev didn't answer directly, but said Israel's goals are to "diminish" the Hamas military force and to show that it cannot attack Israel with impunity.

You can follow all the developments at CNN.com.

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Filed under: Israel • Israel-Gaza conflict
July 17th, 2014
04:07 AM ET

Cease-Fire Broken: Rockets Fired Toward Israel

At least three mortars were fired from Gaza toward southern Israel on Thursday morning, some two hours after a temporary lull in hostilities went into effect to allow humanitarian supplies into the area.

The mortars fell in open areas and no injuries were immediately reported, the Israeli military said. Mortars are smaller and have a more limited range than rockets.

Israel, which said it would honor the cease-fire but not sit idle if attacked, did not immediately respond.

The five-hour long temporary halt in fighting went into effect at 3 a.m. ET, requested by the United Nations to offer a brief respite in a conflict that has killed more than 220 people.

Banks opened for the first time in 10 days in Gaza and residents poured into the streets.

Red Cross officials visited hospitals and damaged houses to assess medical needs, and worked with local officials to quickly fix water pipelines, which has left hundreds of thousands without water.

There were no reported air strikes since the cease-fire began. Still, the fear of death hung heavily over Gaza. The health ministry warned civilians to avoid gathering in squares.

"Should the humanitarian window be exploited by Hamas or other terror organizations for the purpose of launching attacks against Israeli civilian or military targets the IDF will respond firmly and decisively," the Israeli military said.

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July 16th, 2014
08:27 AM ET

Residents of Three Areas in Gaza Told to Flee

The Israeli Defense Forces said Wednesday that it warned residents of three areas in Gaza to vacate their homes because of its plans to carry out airstrikes on Hamas and other terrorist groups.

The IDF said it used recorded messages, text messages and leaflets to alert the populations in Beit Lahyia, Shuja'iya and Zeitoun, places where it said "a high volume of rocket fire at Israel has originated."

"We are all scared but we are force to live in this and there is nothing for us to do," said Abu Musbah, a, 21-year-old member of Islamic Jihad, one of the groups that is firing rockets at Israel. "The children are scared but we struggle to continue our lives."

He said he had already evacuated all of his family members from his house in Shuja'iya.

A woman in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis said some people had fled there from harder hit areas in the north and east of the territory, filling some homes with multiple families.

"Those who have family here have come," said the woman, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from talking to the news media.

She said she believed other people were staying in their houses, regardless of warnings from lsraeli leaflets or other means.

These are their homes, they will not run, she said.

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July 15th, 2014
03:54 AM ET

Israel Accepts Cease-Fire Plan; Hamas Rejects It

Israel says it has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Hamas. But without the militant group signing up as well, there may be little hope of seeing an end to the near constant exchange of fire that has so far killed more than 190 Palestinians in Gaza.

The Israeli security cabinet met early Tuesday morning and released a statement that said, "The cabinet has decided to reply positively to the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire at 9 a.m. (2 a.m. ET)."

The plan calls for all sides to cease hostilities in Gaza. It also calls for the opening of border crossings, once the security situation is stable, and for high-level talks among those involved.

Hamas officials did not immediately respond to the cabinet's decision. But since the cabinet's announcement, only one rocket was fired from Gaza into its territory, the Israeli military said.

Earlier, Hamas mocked the proposal in public, with a spokesman describing it as a "joke."

"We did not receive this declared paper from the Egyptians ... which means it's an initiative for the media. It's not a political initiative," said Osama Hamdan.

Speaking on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," he continued: "It's not really an initiative. It's not really an idea, what they are trying to do is to corner the Palestinians and to help the Israelis more."

Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said it hadn't received any formal or informal request about a cease-fire. But it said it rejects the proposal, describing it as an initiative of "kneeling and submission."

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