Israel declares Gaza truce over, 50 die in Gaza shelling

The Israeli military said that a Gaza ceasefire that went into effect earlier on Friday is now over and military operations were in progress on the ground just after tanks opened fire in the southern Gaza Strip killing 50

Israel declares Gaza truce over, 50 die in Gaza shelling

World Bulletin/News Desk

Israel declared a Gaza ceasefire over on Friday and killed more than 50 Palestinians in renewed shelling, saying an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza.

The 72-hour break announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the most ambitious attempt so far to end more than three weeks of fighting, and followed mounting international alarm over a rising Palestinian civilian death toll.

The ceasefire was to be followed by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Cairo on a longer-term solution.

Egyptian officials said the invitation still stood, but some Palestinian representatives had asked for a postponement until Saturday or Sunday to allow a new truce to be reached.

The Israeli military said that 90 minutes into the truce - as Palestinian families who had fled neighbourhoods that had been turned into battlefields began to trek home - fighters attacked soldiers searching for tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip.

"Out of a tunnel access point or several, terrorists came out of the ground. At least one was a suicide terrorist who detonated himself. There was an exchange of fire," said Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman. Two of the soldiers were killed.

"The initial indication suggests that a soldier has been abducted by terrorists during the incident," he said in a conference call with reporters.

Asked if the ceasefire was over, Lerner replied: "Yes. We are continuing our activities on the ground." He said Israeli forces were mounting an "extensive effort" to locate the soldier.

The Gaza Health Ministry said more than 50 people were killed and 220 wounded by Israeli shelling after the incident near the southern town of Rafah.

According to eyewitnesses, Israeli forces fired several shells toward Palestinians in the area.

The new fatalities were reported despite a 72-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip between Palestinian factions and Israel at a U.N. request to help civilians stock up on food.

The lull, which began at 08:00am local time (05:00GMT) on Friday, comes following 25 days of relentless Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, which killed at least 1440 Palestinians – mostly civilians – and injured 8000 others.

According to Israeli figures, at least 61 soldiers have been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters and three civilians by rocket fire.

Israel's military operation, codenamed "Operation Protective Edge," is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely-populate Gaza Strip – which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians – within the last six years.

The truce had left Israeli ground forces in place in the Gaza Strip and a military spokeswoman had said operations would continue to destroy a warren of tunnels.

There was no immediate word from resistance groups on whether any were holding the soldier, identified by the military as Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the dominant Hamas movement in Gaza, said Israel was trying to mislead the world and "cover up its Rafah massacre".

Gaza officials say at least 1,509 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and 7,000 wounded. Sixty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed and more than 400 hurt. Three civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel.

Eight rockets and mortar bombs were fired from Gaza at Israel after the ceasefire began, the military said, adding that one was intercepted by the Iron Dome system and seven hit open areas.

International calls for an end to the bloodshed intensified after shelling on Wednesday that killed 15 people sheltering in a U.N.-run school in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Ağustos 2014, 15:28

Muhammed Öylek

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