Egyptian attempts to broker an end to a monthlong war between Israel and Hamas collapsed in heavy fighting Tuesday, with Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets and Israel responding with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip.
The burst of violence, which erupted in the hours before a temporary truce was set to expire, left the Egyptian mediation efforts in tatters and raised the likelihood of a new round of fighting in a war that has already claimed more than 2,000 lives, the vast majority of them being Palestinian civilians.
The fighting broke out when Gaza militants fired several rockets into Israel Tuesday afternoon. Israel quickly withdrew its delegation from the Cairo cease-fire talks and resumed its campaign of airstrikes, and fighting continued into the night.
Five people — including the wife and son of Mohammed Deif, the Islamic militant group's elusive military chief — were killed in an airstrike on a house in Gaza City.
A Hamas spokesman says the group's chief was not present during the airstrike.
Sami Abu Zuhri says Mohammed Deif "wasn't even in the location when they bombed it." Abu Zuhri was speaking to Hamas' TV station Al-Aqsa on Wednesday.
An Israeli strike on the three-story house late Tuesday killed Deif's wife and child, as well as three others.
Deif has escaped numerous Israeli assassination attempts in the past.
Israel has not commented on the strike.
Twenty-one people were wounded in a separate airstrike that hit a building that houses offices of Hamas' Al Aqsa TV station, al-Kidra said. The fatalities were the first since a temporary truce was reached last Wednesday.
Israeli officials reported at least 50 rockets were fired late Tuesday, setting off air raid sirens throughout southern Israel and as far away as the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There were no reports of injuries, though a piece of a rocket that was intercepted near Tel Aviv fell on a busy road.
Israel's civil defence authority, the Home Front Command, ordered authorities to reopen public bomb shelters within 50 miles of Gaza.
In Cairo, Palestinian negotiators declared the cease-fire talks over, and said they would leave Egypt on Wednesday.
Azzam al-Ahmad, leader of the delegation, blamed Israel for the failure, but held out hope that the talks could be resumed.