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Hamas: Gaza truce expires; Israel intercepts rocket, reports of fighting

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GAZA/TEL AVIV:A temporary truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas militants that was due to end at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Friday has expired, with neither side announcing a deal to extend it.
In the hour before the truce was set to end, Israel said it intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza and Hamas-affiliated media reported sounds of explosions and gunfire in the north of the Palestinian enclave.
Further sirens warning of rockets sounded again in Israeli areas near Gaza just minutes before the deadline, the Israeli military said.
There was no immediate comment from Hamas or claim of responsibility for the launches.
The seven-day pause, which began on Nov. 24 and was extended twice, had allowed for the exchange of dozens of hostages held in Gaza for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and facilitated the entry of humanitarian aid into the shattered enclave.
Qatar and Egypt have been making intensive efforts to extend the truce following the exchange on Thursday of the latest batch of eight hostages and 30 Palestinian prisoners.
Israel had previously set the release of 10 hostages a day as the minimum it would accept to pause its ground assault and bombardment.
“We’re ready for all possibilities…. Without that, we’re going back to the combat,” Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on CNN ahead of the expiry of the truce.
Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, which rules Gaza, in response to the Oct. 7 rampage by the militant group, when Israel says gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.
Israel retaliated with intense bombardment and a ground invasion. Palestinian health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations say more than 15,000 Gazans have been confirmed killed.
Thursday’s releases brought the totals freed during the truce to 105 hostages and 240 Palestinian prisoners.
With fewer Israeli women and children left in captivity, lengthening the truce could require setting new terms for Hamas to release Israeli men, including soldiers.
The militant group could in turn seek to have Palestinian male prisoners handed over. So far, three Palestinian prisoners have been freed for each Israeli hostage.

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