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Israel Soccer Season Delayed by Gaza War

The start of the Israeli soccer season was delayed for the second weekend in a row on Friday following the resumption of rocket fire by Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Football Association said.

Play in the secondary Toto Cup competition, a regular precursor to the start of league action, was due to start on the weekend of July 26 but was postponed by a week, and for a second time this weekend, the Israel Football Association said.

To reduce the chance of mass casualties being caused by falling rockets, Israeli authorities have banned gatherings of more than 500 people up to 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and of more than 1,000 between 40-80km away.

Many international sporting events in Israel have been called off, with teams involved in European club soccer competitions forced to host opponents in Cyprus, and tennis, basketball, swimming and sailing events also affected.

A month of fighting between Israeli forces and Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip had wound down on Tuesday but militants resumed rocket fire as a 72-hour ceasefire expired at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Friday.

Until the ceasefire ended, Gaza officials said 1,874 Palestinians, mostly civilians, had been killed. Israel said 64 of its soldiers and three civilians were killed since fighting began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes.

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