Hamas kidnaps Israeli officer

Gaza City - A Gaza cease-fire quickly unravelled Friday as violence erupted in and around the southern town of Rafah, with at least 35 Palestinians killed by Israeli shelling and the military saying an infantry officer may have been captured.

Israel and Hamas accused each other of breaking the cease-fire, which had been announced by the US and the UN and took effect at 08:00 (05:00 GMT) Friday. The fighting broke out less than two hours later.

The breakdown of the cease-fire and the apparent capture of the Israeli soldier set the stage for a major escalation of the 25-day-old conflict, which has already devastated large swaths of the impoverished coastal strip.

Israel had said it would continue demolishing cross-border tunnels behind its own defensive lines during the cease-fire, and the military said its troops were attacked during one such operation.

Gunmen emerged from one or more tunnel openings and opened fire, with at least one of the fighters detonating an explosives vest, Israeli army spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner said.

He said 2nd Lt Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old from the town of Kfar Saba, was apparently captured during the ensuing mayhem and taken back into Gaza through a tunnel, while another two soldiers were killed.

"We suspect that he has been kidnapped," Lerner said, adding that the attack took place an hour and a half after the cease-fire began.

An Israeli official said the apparent abduction marked a "very dangerous escalation of violence" and that there would be no three-day humanitarian cease-fire. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

It was not immediately clear if the possible abduction was linked to the heavy shelling in Rafah, which sent families fleeing from apartment blocks that had pillars of smoke rising from them. One woman carrying two children rushed toward a parked car. "Quickly, open the car door!" she yelled to a man standing nearby.

Tank hit

Ambulances ferried the wounded to Rafah's al-Najar hospital, where bloodied bodies on stretchers were carried inside and family members frantically searched for loved ones. Many of the injured were young children, their clothes stained with blood. In one hospital room, four children were treated on a single bed. Others were being examined on the floor.

The shelling killed at least 35 Palestinians and wounded another 200, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.

He said the death toll could rise as rescue workers search for people buried under the rubble of several apartment blocks hit by shells. He did not say whether those killed were civilians or militants.

Hours ahead of the cease-fire, Gaza police reported heavy Israeli tank shelling in northern and eastern Gaza, and the loud exchange of fire with militants could be heard across Gaza City. Tank shells slammed into the city itself, setting homes and shops ablaze.

Hamas fighters hit an Israeli tank with an anti-tank missile, Gaza police said. The militants then attacked Israeli troops who came to evacuate the tank crew. Clashes continued into the early morning hours, police said.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the matter.

- AP
Read more on: palestine israel gaza
Akhenaten 2014-08-01 04:09:06 PM
You do the damage, I hit back. I do the damage, you hit back. This wont stop soon. Many people are still going to die.
Daniel Milstein 2014-08-01 04:10:57 PM
Absolutely disgusting !!
Scanity1 2014-08-01 04:13:52 PM
Hamas cannot even observe a humanatarian ceasefire for 2 hours and the world accepts Israel to make peace with Hamas.Unfortunately the only thing Hamas understands is force and Israel must carry on and finish what she started and destroy Hamas's capability once and for all.I rate Hamas the same as ISIS and orthers, BARBARIC.
Priyal Pillay 2014-08-01 04:22:07 PM
You mean 'captured' right? Why use IDF language?
Avi Stein 2014-08-01 04:37:09 PM
You cannot kidnap a soldier. A soldier is captured. More N24 copy and paste from jewish owned media.
Desire Jackson Pflugbeil 2014-08-01 04:40:23 PM
Howvdoes capturing a man on your own soil constitute kidnap?
Enig Ma 2014-08-01 04:54:14 PM
Usama Hamdan, Hamas' spokesman in Lebanon, has denied that Hamas or any other Palestinian group has kidnapped an Israeli soldier, the Ma'an news agency reports. "There is no Israeli soldier [with us], instead there is an Israeli lie as part of a media campaign in order to legitimise the killing of Palestinian civilians in Rafah," he is reported to have said.
Danie Theron 2014-08-01 05:02:56 PM
Just goes to show Hamas cant be trusted.
Marcus Martin 2014-08-01 05:03:28 PM
Just watched Tony Blinken US spokesmen say “We’re troubled by these reports and what appears to be a rather barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement,” he said. “There’s no doubt that that soldier should be returned unharmed and immediately.” WOW really strong words there. And when Israel massacre thousands or bomb a UN school...all that they will say is " We are concern". Typical. Imagine if this official could have had his finger on the trigger to kill dozens of Palestinians or probably has done...but no lets condemn it.
Markie Crichton 2014-08-01 05:10:39 PM
IDF entering Mosque's and finding tunnels, no place safe its going to be a long war, sadly. Hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel....