TEL AVIV - Israel resumed military action against Hamas Tuesday, giving up on an Egypt-brokered truce after Palestinian militants refused to join the deal and continued to fire rockets over the border.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered airstrikes to resume after Hamas gave no indication it would accept the cease-fire.
Earlier, Israel's security Cabinet had voted to approve the truce starting 9 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) after a meeting in Tel Aviv. However, air raids sirens sounded across southern Israel more than two hours after the truce came into effect as dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza.
"If Hamas does not accept the ceasefire proposal, as would now seem to be the case, Israel would have all international legitimacy to broaden the military operation to achieve the required quiet," Netanyahu told reporters.
At least seven Israeli airstrikes were later heard in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’ armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, earlier said it had not been approached about any deal and that the terms, as reported in the media, amounted to a capitulation. The deal is “not worth the ink with which it was written,” it said in a statement posted on its website [link in Arabic].
"Our battle with the enemy is continuing and will grow even more intense," the statement added.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official who was in Cairo, said the movement had made no final decision. “We are still in consultation and there has been no official position made by the (Hamas) movement regarding the Egyptian proposal,'' he said, according to Reuters.
However, Israel indicated that it would not wait any longer for Hamas to join the cease-fire. It said at least 50 rockets were fired from Gaza in the hours after the truce began.
Secretary of State John Kerry said he “cannot condemn strongly enough” the firing of rockets into Israel in the face of a crease-fire deal that had been agreed in “good faith.”
“Israel has right to defend itself,” he told reporters in Vienna where he was attending nuclear talks with Iran. “Hamas should not use civilians as shields.”
He said he was prepared to fly to the region “if needed” but said Egypt “deserves time and space to make this work,” adding: “We urge all parties to support this ceasefire.”
Israeli television showed the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepting several rockets over the port city of Ashdod. Israel’s military said three rockets landed in an open area near Ashkelon, causing no casualties. There was no immediate word of damage from the other rockets.
In the overnight hours prior to the truce, Israel bombed 25 sites in Gaza overnight. Palestinian medical officials said two people were killed — bringing the enclave's death toll to more than 182 in the recent action.
Ranna Khalil and Paul Goldman of NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report. Alastair Jamieson reported from London.
First published July 14 2014, 11:17 PM