An Israeli official says three rockets fired from Gaza strike southern Israel, hours before a day-long extension of a truce was set to expire. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel on Tuesday (August 19), the Israeli military said, hours before a truce with Palestinian militant groups was set to expire. Israel and the Palestinians have been struggling to reach a lasting deal in Egyptian-mediated talks before a day-long extension of a Gaza ceasefire runs out. A military spokeswoman said the rockets landed in open areas near the city of Beersheba and there were no reports of casualties. Reuters witnesses in Gaza City said they heard the sound of rockets being launched from the Palestinian enclave. A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack "a grave and direct violation of the ceasefire." The chief Palestinian delegate to the indirect negotiations in Cairo with Israel cautioned that violence could erupt anew if they failed. After a last-minute agreement was struck on Monday to extend by 24 hours, until 2100 GMT on Tuesday, a deadline to reach a truce, Azzam al-Ahmad, senior leader of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, said there had been "no progress on any point" in the talks. The Palestinians are demanding an end to the Egyptian and Israeli blockades of the economically-crippled Gaza Strip, where Israel launched an offensive on July 8 after a surge in Hamas rocket fire across the border. Israel, like Egypt, views Hamas, the Islamist group which dominates the impoverished enclave, as a security threat and wants guarantees any removal of border restrictions will not result in militant groups obtaining weapons.