35 Palestinians Dead, Israeli Soldier Missing as Cease-Fire Unravels

Palestinians carry their belongings after salvaging them from their destroyed houses in the heavily bombed town of Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli border, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014.

At least 35 Palestinians were killed in southern Gaza and an Israeli soldier is reportedly missing as an Israel-Hamas truce unraveled in just a few hours after taking effect. Both Israel and Hamas are accusing each other of breaking the three-day cease-fire.
Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra told The Associated Press that some 200 Palestinians were wounded in a "random" Israeli shelling on Friday in and around the town of Rafah.
The 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire took effect at 8 a.m. Friday after heavy fighting that killed 17 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers. The deal, which the U.S. and U.N. jointly announced on Thursday, called for forces on the ground to remain in place.
"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry said in a joint statement on Thursday.


A Palestinian girl salvages a mattress from a destroyed house in the heavily bombed Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah, close to the Israeli border, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014.

The Israeli military says Gaza militants have fired eight rockets and mortars at Israel since the cease-fire began, one of which was intercepted.

Israeli soldier "feared" captured

Shortly after the cease-fire broke, the Israeli military said it "feared" one of its soldiers had been captured, adding that it believes Hamas took advantage of the cease-fire in order to kidnap the soldier. The Israeli military is now conducting "extensive searches" in southern Gaza.
According to IDF spokesman Peter Lerner, the kidnapped soldier is 23 years old and was reportedly captured around 9:30 a.m. The Israeli military claims his attacker dragged him into a tunnel.

The kidnapping has ignited fears among civilians in Gaza, according to a BBC journalist who is on the ground there.

A brutal week for civilians in Gaza

This week has been particularly deadly in Gaza as Israel stepped up its campaign on Tuesday in its heaviest bombardment in the fighting so far. The Israeli military targeted key Hamas symbols, including a building that was home to multiple media outlets.

Huge explosion hits Gaza media building by Tranganhnam88
Israel also hit Gaza's main power plant, taking out most of the area's electricity.

Raw 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant by Tranganhnam88
On Wednesday, civilian casualties mounted when Israeli tank shells hit a U.N. school in Gaza where several refugees were staying, killing 15 and wounding 90.
The cease-fire was put in place so civilians in Gaza could receive the humanitarian relief they so urgently need as the Palestinian death toll continues to climb. According to the U.S.-U.N. statement, the three-day peace period would have given civilians the opportunity to carry out basic needs, such as buy more food and repair energy and water infrastructure. It would have also given them time to bury the dead.
Some information in this report was provided by The Associated Press.

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