Israel resumes combat in Gaza as ceasefire expires

Heavy clashes erupted in Gaza on Friday as Israel’s military recommenced combat operations against Hamas, accusing the Palestinian militant group of violating a temporary truce by firing towards Israeli territory.

The seven-day hiatus, initiated on Nov. 24 and extended twice, facilitated the exchange of numerous hostages held in Gaza for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and allowed humanitarian aid to enter the battered coastal strip.

In the hour leading up to the truce’s scheduled end at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), Israel reported intercepting a rocket fired from Gaza.

Hamas offered no immediate comment, and there was no claim of responsibility for the launches.

Palestinian media documented Israeli air and artillery strikes across the enclave after the truce’s expiration, including in Rafah, near the Egypt border.

In Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, a Reuters witness reported heavy shelling and observed smoke rising in the eastern part of the town. People were seen fleeing to camps in the west of Khan Younis for shelter.

Al-Jazeera reported casualties from Israeli raids and shelling, with a number of people killed and injured.

The Israel military confirmed airstrikes targeting Hamas in Gaza.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that, with the resumption of hostilities, Israel remained committed to achieving its objectives in the conflict.

Social media images depicted large plumes of dark smoke over the densely populated Jabalia camp in Gaza.

In response to the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas, in which Israel alleges gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, Israel vowed to eradicate the militant group, which governs Gaza. Israel retaliated with extensive bombardment and a ground invasion. According to Palestinian health authorities recognized by the United Nations, over 15,000 Gazans have been confirmed killed.