Palestinian media sources said on Friday that Israeli occupation forces violated the truce in Gaza Strip by bombing a number of areas to the east of Rafah and Gaza towns, claiming more Palestinians’ lives.
The Israeli army said one of its soldiers had been captured in Gaza on Friday, officially ending a ceasefire which had already been shattered mere hours after it had begun.
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, according to Reuters.
In response to a question from journalists about whether the truce had ended, army spokesman Peter Lerner said, "Yes. We are continuing our activities on the ground."
Egypt told Palestinian officials Friday it is delaying ceasefire talks in Cairo after Israel said fighters captured one of its soldiers in Gaza, a senior Islamic Jihad official said.
"The Egyptians contacted the Islamic Jihad and said Israel told them that a soldier has been captured," the group's deputy leader Ziad al-Nakhale told AFP. "The talks have postponed."
Deadly Rafah strikes
A Reuters photographer and the Gaza Interior Ministry said Israeli tanks opened fire in the southern Rafah area some two hours after the truce began.
It remained unclear whether the Israeli soldier was captured before the beginning of the ceasefire, or during the assault on Rafah.
At around the same time, Israeli media said that sirens could be heard in some Israeli towns, with Haaretz reporting that two mortar shells were fired from Gaza. There were no reports of casualties.
AFP correspondents said the artillery barrage of the southern city of Rafah was ongoing, preventing medics from recovering the dead and wounded.
The intensive shelling killed at least 35 people and injured 100, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
When the humanitarian truce began at 8:00 am, the skies over the Gaza Strip fell silent, although in the preceding two hours there was heavy Israeli fire and the sound of outgoing rockets.
Egypt had invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to send delegates to Cairo for longer-term truce talks. But the discussions were postponed after the ceasefire was broken.
Senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq told AFP more talks were needed on finding a solution to the blockade of the coastal enclave. "More efforts are needed," he said in a telephone interview from Doha, where Hamas's political leadership is based.
"But now the whole world knows Gaza will not accept a siege."
Despite rising international concern over the civilian death toll in Gaza, Washington said it had agreed to restock Israel's dwindling munitions supplies.
The White House on Friday condemned a reported Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers in Gaza as a violation of the newly reached cease-fire and called for the release of the abducted Israeli soldier.
“Day of anger” demo held in West Bank in support of Gaza
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank demonstrated in front of the Israeli Ofer military base near Ramallah in what seems to be the beginnings of “day of anger” protests in solidarity with the Gaza Strip.
There were already unconfirmed reports that at least two Palestinians have been injured so far by live-fire in front of the Ofer military base, Ma’an news agency reported.
The demonstrations, called by Hamas, were also reportedly taking place in other areas such as Hebron, Bethlehem, and Nablus, according to activists on social media.
Israeli forces have killed nine Palestinians in the West Bank in a 24-hour period last week as tens of thousands took the streets in solidarity with Gaza in some of the largest demonstrations since the Second Intifada.
‘Gaza war is crime against humanity’
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said Friday the Gaza war is a "collective massacre" that has spared no Palestinian living there and describes it as a "crime against humanity."
King Abdullah's remarks were read live by a news anchor on Saudi state television. The aging monarch did not make an appearance.
The Saudi king warned that the fighting in Gaza will lead to a generation of children who will grow up knowing nothing but the language of violence. He calls on Muslim leaders and the international community to unite against what he describes as state terrorism and terrorism by groups.
Saudi Arabia pretends to be playing an active role, in cease-fire talks, siding with Egypt. However , the Muslim government in Riyadh has fallen short of insisting on Palestinian demands, including the end to the siege of Gaza.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader