Jerusalem, Dec 1 (IANS): Israel on Friday resumed combat operations against the Hamas in Gaza, accusing the militant group of violating the truce agreement by firing towards the Jewish state, thus ending the seven-day ceasefire.
In a post on X, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said: "Hamas violated the operational pause, and in addition, fired toward Israeli territory. The IDF has resumed combat against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza."
The truce, which was only renewed at the last minute for the seventh day on Thursday, was set to expire again at around 7 a.m. local time (about 10.30 a.m. IST) on Friday.
Thursday's extension was the second of the initial four-day truce that commenced on Novermber 24.
It was extended for two more days on Tuesday.
Since the start of the pause, 240 Palestinians, 86 Israelis, and 24 foreign nationals have reportedly been released.
Shortly before the seven-day truce was set to expire, Israel said it shot down a rocket fired from Gaza while media outlets affiliated with the Hamas group reported explosions and gunfire in northern Gaza, reports the BBC.
Several air strikes have hit the southern Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run interior and national security ministry said on its Telegram account.
In a statement, the Ministry also said Israeli aircraft were in the skies above the area.
Egyptian and Qatari negotiators had been pushing to extend the pause in fighting in Gaza for an extra two days to facilitate the release of more hostages and prisoners, and to allow more aid into the strip, according to Egypt's State Information Service.
Israeli officials had repeatedly stated that a condition of any extension to the pause in fighting is that Hamas must release 10 Israeli women and children held hostage per day.
Under the terms of the deal, Israel freed three Palestinians for every Israeli hostage released.
On Thursday, both Israel and Hamas have indicated they were prepared for fighting to resume.
“We should be prepared for a quick transition into full scale fighting at any point, today, tomorrow, at any moment. As soon as we maximise the move to return hostages we will resume fierce fighting across the whole Gaza Strip,” CNN quoted Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as saying on Thursday.
Hamas’ military wing also asked its forces to maintain a high-combat readiness posture.