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Gaza death toll hits 1669, Hamas denies it captured soldier
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Gaza99(15).jpgIsraeli war jets on Saturday bombed a mosque in the northern Gaza town of Jabalia, a major university in Gaza City and flattened houses in a beach side neighborhood, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 1,669 as Hamas denied it kidnapped an Israeli soldier.
 
Saturday's killings come a day after Israeli forces committed horrifying massacres in the southern town of Rafah, slaughtering about more than 150 men, women and children after the killing of two Israeli soldiers.
 
According to Gaza medics, more than 9,000 were also injured during the 25-day-long offensives.
 
Israel signaled it was winding down the 25-day-old Gaza war unilaterally, saying on Saturday it would not attend Egyptian-hosted negotiations for a new truce and giving Palestinians who had fled fighting in one northern town the all-clear to return.
 
But shelling exchanges continued, with Palestinian officials saying Gaza's mostly civilian death toll rose to above 1,600 and Israel saying its Iron Dome interceptor shot down rockets launched at the cities of Tel Aviv and Beersheba, Reuters reported. 
 
Hamas claimed responsibility for the ambush of the Israeli army officer, but said the group has lost contact with the fighters involved in the operation, and suggested that they may have been killed by Israeli shelling along with their prisoner of war.
 
"We lost contact with the (Hamas) troops deployed in the ambush and assess that these troops were probably killed by enemy bombardment, including the soldier said to be missing -- presuming that our troops took him prisoner during the clash," Hamas said in a statement issued in Arabic and English.
 
"The Qassam Brigades has no information as of this time about the missing soldier, his whereabouts, or the circumstances of his disappearance."
 
Despite continuous Israeli shelling, a Palestinian delegation was due to arrive in Cairo for talks on the terms of a durable truce, however, even after the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire fell apart within hours starting on Friday.
 
But the chances of a new truce seemed remote after Israel unilaterally violates the ceasefire, claiming that Hamas fighters captured Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, in an attack near the southern Gaza city of Rafah that killed two other soldiers.
 
In Israel, the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted two rockets fired from Gaza over the Tel Aviv area and another over the southern city of Beersheba, the army said.
 
The Qassam Brigades said they had fired three rockets at Tel Aviv.
 
The Israeli army continued to its bombardment of Rafah city as part of the search for the missing Israeli officer.
 
Rafah was subjected to heavy bombing overnight, and rescue operations were ongoing.
 
Over 100 people have been killed there, and hundreds have been injured, since the breakdown of a planned 72-hour ceasefire, the Guardian reported.
 
At least 15 people were killed after the bombing of a residential compound in the west of the city run by the United Nations Development Program to house people displaced during the last conflict in Gaza.
 

Gaza's hospitals ‘deliberately’ targeted
 
Spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qudra accused the Israeli occupation forces of "deliberately" targeting Gaza's health sector.
 
Counting the number of Israeli attacks on Palestinian hospitals and paramedics during the war on his Twitter page, Al-Qudra described the Israeli acts as "war crimes" and "violations of the international law and Fourth Geneva Convention" that warranted urgent prosecution, the Middle East Monitor reported. 
 
"Healthcare facilities have come under Zionist's fire," he tweeted. "Abu-Yousif Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, which is the only one in the whole city that serves around 350,000 Gazans is an example. Its staff was forced to evacuate the dead and wounded and abandon the hospital under heavy Israeli fire on Friday."
 
Another example, Al-Qudra cited, was the Beit Hanoun Hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip. "It is the only hospital there that serves around 40,000 Gazans," he said. "Its staff was obliged to evacuate patients and dead and leave under heavy Israeli fire two days before the attack Rafah," he added.
 
He counted other hospitals, including Mohamed Al-Dorrah Hospital in the north-eastern side of the Gaza city, which was closed after Israeli bombardment near its headquarters.
 
"We in the ministry of health condemn these racist acts, which complicate the healthcare system and regard them as part of the Israeli war of aggression on Gaza," he said.
 
"International human rights organizations are urged to review their positions and fulfil their moral duty to protect healthcare institutions in the Gaza Strip," he added.
 
On Wednesday, Israel's occupation forces killed three paramedics while they were evacuating casualties in Rafah. 
 

Colombian Senate condemns Israeli aggression, 
 
Meanwhile, the Colombian Senate issued a statement on Friday condemning the Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip and called for the lifting of the siege on the territory and establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
 
"In light of the serious developments in Gaza, the Colombian Senate condemns the Israeli operations against Palestinian civilians, which caused severe damage to infrastructure, in addition to killing hundreds of civilians, most of whom are women or children," the statement read.
 
The Senate called for an immediate ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories, as well as recognition of the right of the Palestinians to establish their state on the 1967 borders.
 

Demo against pro-Israeli media held in New York 
 
Thousands of people held a demonstration in New York City on Friday to protest against Israel's mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza and the pro-Israel coverage of CNN and Fox News.
 
The demonstration started in front of the CNN headquarters in the Time Warner building in Manhattan, with U.S. citizens of all races and religions, including Jews, participating.
 
The protesters drew the Nazi swastika on the Israeli flag, and held up pictures of victims of the Israeli assault on Gaza, while New York police took strict security measures to protect the demonstration.
 
The protesters chant slogans in solidarity with Gaza, such as "We are all Palestinians" and "Free, Free Palestine". They also condemned the biased media coverage by major TV networks.
 
Israel launched an air and naval offensive on Gaza on July 8, later escalating it into ground incursions, centered along the eastern frontier of the enclave but often pushing into urban areas.

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