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After Israel violated a ceasefire Monday it continued to bomb Gaza overnight. Now officials say they will keep firing until Friday's Great March is cancelled.
Despite a Egypt-brokered ceasefire Monday night, rocket fires continued into Tuesday as Israeli pounded the Palestinian Gaza Strip with rockets. Gaza shot back at Israeli territory highly protected by the Iron Dome.
"Egyptian efforts succeeded with a ceasefire between the occupation and the resistance factions," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Al Jazeera after the short-lived ceasefire. Israel said Tuesday morning it would only respect a ceasefire if the weekly Friday protest known as the Great March of Return is cancelled, says Haaretz.
Over the past year around 200 Palestinians have been targeted and killed by Israeli troops during the Great March demonstrations at the Gaza border.
Images from Reuters show major explosions on Gaza City buildings as Israeli rockets struck the city around 10:30 pm local time Monday night and continued until around 4:30 am Tuesday. The offices of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh were destroyed and the windows of Gaza homes were blown out in the Hamas-controlled enclave. Haniyeh called for unity amidst the attacks saying, "the Palestinian cause is being attacked on various fronts - in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as inside Israeli jails.”
The Hamas leader added: "We must face this onslaught with a united national front, and in coordination with our Arab allies. ... Our people and the resistance will not surrender if the occupation crosses red lines."
There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side, according to Reuters.
On Monday Israeli authorities closed the important Gaza Strip crossings at Erez and Kerem Shalom, further limiting Palestinian movement and trade.
This round of escalated fighting came after a rocket hit a home near Tel Aviv that injured seven people Monday. Netanyahu immediately blamed Hamas for the act, however, Hamas told local media the rocket was launched on accident, activated by inclement weather, reported EFE.
Hours later Israel carried out a wave of retaliatory strikes, leaving five Palestinians wounded. Netanyahu cut short his visit to the United States Monday.
Tensions between Gaza and Israel have been running higher than unusual since March 14 when two rockets were launched into Tel Aviv causing no damage or injury. No group took responsibility for the attack but Israel has responded by launching over 100 rockets at the strip since that time.
The escalation comes just two weeks before an election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting to maintain his decade-long hold on power. He’s facing criticism of being too soft on security and for corruption charges.
Israel has waged three wars on Gaza since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israeli air strikes in retaliation for rockets from Gaza are a frequent occurrence, however Palestinians were bracing themselves Monday as two Israeli brigades were assigned to the Gaza border that hadn’t happened since the 2014 Gaza war that killed as many as 2,310 Palestinians in the impoverished strip, compared to under a dozen Israelis civilians.