United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday condemned “in the strongest terms” the breach of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in Gaza.

In a statement, Ban’s spokesman said the UN chief “is gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities.”

“The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their responsibility not to let the situation escalate. The hopes of the people in Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people in Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo,” said the statement.

“The Secretary-General calls on the delegations to live up to this expectation and urges the parties to reach an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza,” said Ban.

The ceasefire in Gaza was set to end at midnight Tuesday, but Hamas violated it hours before that time, firing three rockets towards Be’er Sheva in the afternoon.

The group later continued by firing another barrage towards southern and central Israel, including Jerusalem.

Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk subsequently accused Israel of having trying to eliminate the head of the group's “military wing”, Mohammed Deif, in one of its air strikes on Gaza.

Marzouk said Israel had broken the truce that was supposed to expire at midnight in order "to assassinate Mohammed Deif," but that civilians were killed at the site of the attack.

Earlier on Tuesday, the United States condemned Hamas's breach of the ceasefire, 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.

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