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Israel: Rockets fired from Gaza, cease-fire broken

JERUSALEM – Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired three rockets into Israel on Tuesday, breaking a temporary cease-fire and casting a shadow on indirect negotiations about ending a monthlong war between Israel and Hamas.

The Israeli military said the rockets landed in open fields near the southern city of Beersheba. While no one was hurt, the rocket fire broke a nearly weeklong lull that has held during the Egyptian-mediated negotiations.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But shortly before the launch, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum hinted of more rocket fire, saying: “If Netanyahu doesn’t understand ... the language of politics in Cairo, we know how to make him understand.”

Officials said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered an unspecified response.

“This rocket attack on Beersheba is a grave and direction violation of the cease-fire,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said.

The effect it would have on the negotiations in Cairo was not immediately clear.

Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators had resumed their indirect talks after agreeing to a 24-hour extension of the cease-fire to allow more time for negotiations.

The negotiations are aimed at working out a long-term arrangement between Israel and Hamas following weeks of fighting that has killed about 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and left tens of thousands more homeless. Sixty-seven Israelis have died, all but three of them soldiers.

Hamas is seeking an end to a seven-year Israeli-Egypt blockade that has ravaged Gaza’s economy. Israel wants Hamas to disarm. An Egyptian compromise proposal calls for easing the blockade, but not lifting it.

And while Hamas would not be required to give up its arsenal, the Egyptian plan would give Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were ousted by Hamas in 2007, a foothold back in Gaza, running border crossings and overseeing internationally-backed reconstruction.

Mohammed Daraghmeh of the Associated Press in Cairo contributed to this report.

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