18 killed in Gaza as situation escalates following negotiation collapse
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18 people have been killed in Gaza since Thursday morning, raising the number of those killed since the resumption of Israeli strikes against the embattled strip yesterday to 54, Palestinian Health Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qoudra said on Thursday.

The death toll in Gaza has reached 2,065 since the Israeli offensive began in early June.

Indirect negotiations between the two sides held in Cairo have collapsed, and were followed by a series of Israeli airstrikes against Gaza on Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

The head of the Palestinian delegation, Azzam al-Ahmed, said that the negotiations collapsed due to “maneuvers by the Israeli delegation that circumvented any move forward.”

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, issued an official statement Thursday saying that three of its founding members were killed in Israeli strikes, including Mohamed Abu Shemaleh, Raed al-Attar, and Mohamed Barhoum. The militant group promised retribution by making Israel “pay a high price for this vicious crime.”

Hamas Spokesperson Samy Abu Zouhri also said on Thursday that the assassination of Qassam leaders is “a huge Israeli crime that will not succeed in breaking the will of our people or weakening the resistance. Israel will pay the price.”

Meanwhile, Egypt Air declared that all its flights to Israel will be halted, given the deteriorating security situation in Israel’s airspace following the resumption of Qassam’s rocket attacks against Israel, sources in the Egyptian company told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Thursday.

The sources said that the Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, Haim Koren, was supposed to travel to Israel for the weekend on one of Sinai Air flights, which is owned by Egypt Air, but was forced to travel to Jordan and take another flight into Israel. 

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