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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    Israel announces resumption of combat as truce with Hamas expires

    Palestinian men flee to northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip on Nov. 24, 2023. A cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war began as part of an agreement that Qatar helped broker. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

    JERUSALEM (AP) Israel's military said it had resumed combat operations in the Gaza Strip minutes after a temporary truce with Hamas expired Friday, blaming the militant group for breaking the cease-fire.

    The truce expired at 7 a.m (0500 GMT) Friday. The halt in fighting began a week ago, on Nov. 24. It initially lasted for four days, and then was extended for several days with the help of Qatar and fellow mediator Egypt.

    During the week-long truce, Hamas and other militants in Gaza released more than 100 hostages, most of them Israelis, in return for 240 Palestinians freed from prisons in Israel.

    Virtually all of those freed were women and children, but the fact that few such hostages remained in Gaza complicated reaching a deal for a further extension.

    Hamas, a militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years, had also been expected to set a higher price for the remaining hostages, especially Israeli soldiers. About 140 hostages remain in Gaza, with more than 100 having been freed as part of the truce.

    Qatar and Egypt, which have played a key role as mediators had sought to prolong the truce by another two days.

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