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US Condemns Gaza Rocket Fire as Hamas Blames Israel

As State Dept. spokeswoman says blame for scuppering of talks lies with Hamas, Islamist terror group says Israel at fault.
By Ari Soffer and AFP
First Publish: 8/19/2014, 9:34 PM

Hamas terrorists parade rocket
Hamas terrorists parade rocket
Flash 90

The United States has condemned Hamas's breach of the ceasefire Tuesday, blaming the Islamist terror group for the breakdown of talks over a long-term truce in Cairo.

"Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza... Rocket fire came from Gaza," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, blaming the Palestinian Islamist group for renewed fighting.

"We are very concerned about today's development, condemn the renewed rocket fire and as we have said Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks." Harf told reporters.

"We call for an immediate end of rocket fire hostilities and the return to ceasefire talks," she added, at a scheduled briefing. "We hope that the parties can reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire or, if necessary, agree to another extension of their temporary ceasefire so they can continue the conversation.

"But as of right now, with today's developments, we are very concerned and it is our understanding the ceasefire has broken down."

Hamas blames Israel

Despite the blatant breach of the ceasefire by Gaza rocket-fire, Hamas has blamed Israel for the breakdown in talks.

A senior Hamas official said Tuesday the chances of a durable ceasefire in Gaza were "evaporating" and that there had been no progress in indirect negotiations with Israel.

The official, Ezzat al-Rishq, is among a Palestinian delegation in Cairo where Egyptian mediators are racing to bridge the gaps ahead of the expiration of a temporary ceasefire at midnight.

"There is no progress in the negotiations. Chances of an agreement are evaporating, and we hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for that," Rishq wrote on Twitter.

He said the Palestinian delegation had presented the Egyptian mediators with their final position, which was relayed to the Israelis.

The Israeli team "left with the excuse of presenting it to their cabinet," Rishq wrote.

Israel ordered its delegation to leave Cairo and renewed air strikes on Gaza after a salvo of rockets hit the south of the country, hours before the truce was to expire.

At least eight rockets and mortar shells have been fired on Israel by Gazan terrorists on Tuesday, starting with three rockets aimed at the southern city of Be'er Sheva shortly before 4 p.m.