Israeli diplomatic sources on Tuesday revealed that following this afternoon's breach of the ceasefire by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have recalled the Israeli delegation from Cairo truce talks, according to a report on INN.
Three rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva just before 4 p.m., with two of them hitting near the southern capital and the third near Netivot. All three struck open ground, causing no damage or injuries. At the time of publication, another five rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza.
Netanyahu and Ya'alon ordered the IDF to conduct retaliatory airstrikes following the breach, a counter-strike that was carried out within minutes of the attack, hitting several terror targets in the Hamas enclave of Gaza.
"The Cairo process was based on the premise of a total ceasefire," another official told AFP. "If Hamas fires rockets the Cairo process has no basis."
However, there was no immediate confirmation the team had left.
Talks in Cairo have been faltering, as the current ceasefire extension was set to expire Tuesday night at midnight.
The United States has condemned Hamas's breach of the ceasefire Tuesday, blaming the Islamist terror group for the breakdown of talks over a long-term truce in Cairo, according to published reports.
"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.
"We call for an immediate end of rocket fire hostilities and the return to ceasefire talks," she added, at a scheduled briefing. "We hope that the parties can reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire or, if necessary, agree to another extension of their temporary ceasefire so they can continue the conversation.
"But as of right now, with today's developments, we are very concerned and it is our understanding the ceasefire has broken down."
Despite the blatant breach of the ceasefire by Gaza rocket-fire, Hamas has blamed Israel for the breakdown in talks.
INN has reported that a senior Hamas official said Tuesday the chances of a durable ceasefire in Gaza were "evaporating" and that there had been no progress in indirect negotiations with Israel.
The official, Ezzat al-Rishq, is among a Palestinian delegation in Cairo where Egyptian mediators are racing to bridge the gaps ahead of the expiration of a temporary ceasefire at midnight. "There is no progress in the negotiations. Chances of an agreement are evaporating, and we hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for that," Rishq wrote on Twitter.
According to reports by Sky News Arabic, Egypt has been making great efforts to save the ceasefire following the breach from Gaza. The report adds that the Israeli and Palestinian Arab delegations have not yet left Cairo, according to a report on INN.
During the latest round of talks, the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas and Islamic Jihad delegation submitted their amendments to an Egyptian proposal. In it, they slipped in demands for terrorist releases, and to push off discussions about Hamas returning the bodies of Second Lt.Hadar Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul hy''d for a month after any truce.
Israel's demand for the disarmament of Gaza has been reportedly shelved in the talks, to be discussed in the next round held a month after an interim agreement.
Nevertheless, Israel has already made one "goodwill" gesture, lifting a ban on Gaza fishing Sunday despite numerous terrorist infiltration attempts by sea during the operation, and the fact that weapons have been smuggled in disguised fishing boats.
For its part, the Israeli public has been vocally unified calling for decisive action to remove the security threat from Gaza. This call was exemplified last Thursday, when 10,000 Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv's iconic Rabin Square demanding Israel finish the job in Gaza. The Israeli Air Force has struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire, following Prime Minister Netanyahu's order to strike back hard against the perpetrators.
Sources in Gaza reported at least one IAF strike on an open area, which did not cause any injuries. It is possible the target was the site from where the rockets were launched, although this has not been confirmed.
Palestinian sources say the Israeli airstrike response focused on the Gaza neighborhoods of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia. Reports from Gaza also claim strikes were carried out adjacent to an UNRWA school in eastern Rafah, in the Al-Marazi "refugee camp" in central Gaza, and in Deir al-Balah and Al-Karara in southern Gaza.
An IDF spokesman said: "The IDF was prepared for this possibility and is determined to protect the security of the residents of the State of Israel.”
"Yet again, terrorists breach the ceasefire and renew fire at Israeli civilians from Hamas ruled Gaza Strip," said army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of sabotaging indirect talks in Cairo aimed at brokering a longer-term ceasefire. "We don't have any information about firing rockets from Gaza. The Israeli raids are intended to abort the negotiations in Cairo," Abu Zuhri told AFP.
But in a potentially explosive development, an unnamed security source told Walla! news site the rocket attack was ordered directly by Hamas's Qatar-based head Khaled Meshaal. The source claimed Meshaal had bypassed Hamas's official "military wing", the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and ordered a specially-assigned unit of Hamas operatives answerable directly to him to launch the attack, as reported by INN.
The source claimed Meshaal was aiming to sabotage negotiations for a long-term truce in Cairo, which were not going his way.
Weighing in on the rockets, Eshkol Regional Council head Chaim Yelin remarked: "who expected anything else? This is the language of Hamas. A language that for 14 years the state of Israel apparently hasn't understood."
Roughly two-and-a-half hours after three rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva from the Hamas enclave of Gaza on Tuesday in breach of the ceasefire agreed between the sides, terrorists in the area reportedly continued their fire on Israel.
There are conflicting reports as to whether mortar shells or a rocket hit open ground in the Sedot Negev Regional Council area; there were no injuries or damage reported in the attack.
All reports agree that rocket sirens were not sounded in the area before the attack hit.
Just minutes after the Sderot Negev strike, "Color Red" rocket sirens were sounded in Netivot and the Gaza Belt area. Iron Dome reportedly shot down two missiles over Netivot. A third rocket reportedly hit open ground in the Sedot Negev region.
Thousands of Arab Gaza residents have reportedly begun fleeing their homes in eastern Gaza City after the rocket breach and IAF retaliatory airstrikes, reports AFP.
One reporter for the French news agency stated that hundreds of residents were leaving the Shejaiya neighborhood, where some reports indicated the initial rocket fire had emanated from. Thousands more were leaving Zeitoun and Shaaf, according to witnesses.
In related developments, the body of missing IDF soldier David Menachem Gordon, 21, has been found dead just days after going missing Sunday, according to an INN report.
Gordon, who was a soldier in the Givati infantry brigade, was found with his weapon beside him. Military police have opened an investigation into the circumstances of his death. His family has been informed.
Gordon was a "lone soldier" from Ohio, and had last been seen at 12:00 p.m. at the Medical Corps facility in Tzrifin, where he had been receiving dental treatment. He was scheduled to return to the city of Holon, but when he did not return a search ensued, with police finally making a public appeal for help locating the young soldier.
INN reported that “writing on his Facebook page after leaving Gaza on July 25, Gordon wrote "unbelievably overwhelmed, not from this mission but from the support and messages of encouragement from family, friends and strangers. I am OK and I've never felt more loved. Thank you all!"
A June 4 entry from his blog, written shortly after he completed his advanced combat training in the Givati infantry brigade, was subtitled "how the army helped me find happiness."
Noting his feelings after completing the training, Gordon wrote "it was grueling but I persisted and even through my exhaustion, flames of honor burned in my chest. I was damn proud of myself."
The young soldier went on to state how his passionate love of writing had been temporarily paused during the training, but went on to record how that night he overcame a half-year of writer's block in a great rush of joy.
Gordon continued "thanks to once-booming economies and a technological revolution, many vices and devices these days are quicker, stronger and easier to acquire...except when we become desensitized to it all - then we feel dead."
In the midst of a world of over-stimulation to events and the feelings they accompany, Gordon noted "if the military has taught me anything it’s to appreciate the small things as well as things I had previously taken for granted. With all luxuries limited as of late, I have a new appreciation for everyday gifts like hot showers, tasty food, human connection, entertainment and even freedom."