Skip to main content

Israel-Palestine war: Israel resumes air strikes on Gaza after truce expires

More than 180 Palestinians killed across the besieged enclave as Israel resumes bombardment following expiration of truce
People try to comfort a woman holding the body of her baby girl killed in an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 1 December 2023 (AFP)
By Lubna Masarwa in Jerusalem and Areeb Ullah in London

More than 180 Palestinians were killed and hundreds of others wounded on Friday when Israel resumed air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip after a week-long truce ran out with no deal to extend it.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza told reporters that Israeli strikes killed at least 184 people, wounded at least 589 others and struck more than 20 houses.

Scores of Palestinians were reported killed in Rafah, an area in the south declared a "safe zone" by Israel, while correspondents with Middle East Eye reported seeing huge plumes of smoke rising above the ruins in the north of the enclave.

The resumption of hostilities ended a seven-day pause which offered a brief respite to Palestinians languishing in Gaza who have endured weeks of intense Israeli bombardment and a ground invasion.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


It also ended a truce that had seen Hamas release around 100 Israeli women and children and foreigners held captive in Gaza.

Early on Friday, shortly before the truce was set to expire, Israel's military said on the social media site X that it had intercepted a projectile fired from Gaza.

Hamas said it fired rockets at the southern Israeli towns of Ashkelon, Sderot and Beersheba in retaliation for Israel targeting civilians.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another faction, said it had shelled Israel "in response" to attacks on Gaza earlier in the day.

Within hours of the truce expiring, Israel began dropping leaflets in parts of southern Gaza, warning civilians to evacuate southwards towards Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

The leaflets dropped in Khan Younis said the city was now a "dangerous battle zone".

Follow Middle East Eye's live coverage for the latest on the Israel-Palestine war

Rights groups have repeatedly warned there are no safe places in Gaza, with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, calling on the Israeli army to rescind the order.

"Civilians are being ordered to move south, but nowhere in Gaza is safe due to the indiscriminate bombing and continued fighting," MSF said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said: "With the return to fighting, we emphasise: the government of Israel is committed to achieving the war aims - freeing our hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to the residents of Israel."

Qatar, which helped brokered the pause along with Egypt and the US, said negotiations between the two sides were continuing but it warned that the bombing of Gaza "in the first hours after the end of the pause complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the strip."  

In a statement, Hamas said that during Thursday's negotiations it offered to return hostages, including elderly captives, as well as hand over bodies of hostages it said had been killed in Israeli air strikes.

The group added that it had offered to release Yarden Bibas and the bodies of his wife and two children it said had been killed by Israeli raids. Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan told Al Jazeera that "we seriously sought and are still seeking the truce."

Israel-Palestine war: With its fixer role in the limelight, Qatar eyes a full ceasefire
Read More »

His comments came hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders to exert some influence over the expected next phase of Israel's military offensive.

It was his fourth visit to Israel since the 7 October attack.

Having deployed ground forces in northern Gaza and sent most of the population fleeing southward, Israel has signalled that it will invade the south, where US and Israeli officials claim much of Hamas' leadership is based.

Israel has previously said that Hamas's most senior leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, was hiding in a bunker in Gaza City in the north.

At a news conference in Tel Aviv late on Thursday, Blinken once again defended Israel's right to wage war in Gaza, but said the country should do more to protect civilians.

"Israel has the right to do everything it can to ensure that the slaughter that Hamas carried out on 7 October can never be repeated," Blinken said. "Hamas cannot remain in control of Gaza."

Later, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel's aim was to destroy Hamas. "We have sworn, I have sworn, to eliminate Hamas," Netanyahu said. "Nothing will stop us."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.