Hopes that a relative lull in violence between Israelis and Palestinians could last have been significantly dented following an upsurge in hostilities. Israel has launched a series of retaliatory air strikes in Gaza City after five of its soldiers were killed on Sunday.They targeted suspected weapons-making factories. Yesterday’s attack on an Israeli checkpoint was the army’s heaviest in seven months. Militants had dug a tunnel underneath the post and set off 1500 kg bomb. Israel has now said that progress towards peace cannot be made if what it termed terrorism continued. But for Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat negotiations need to come first: “The only way to revive hope in the minds of Israelis and Palestinians is to have a meaningful process. The only way to break the vicious cycle of violence is to revive a meaningful peace process and negotiations, that would lead to the end of the Israeli occupation,” he said. Israel has sent re-enforcements to the southern Gaza Strip. The growing violence has dealt a blow to those who had hoped that the Palestinian president’s death would herald a new period of calm and eventually bring lasting peace to the troubled region.