Over 100 Gaza civilians killed overnight as Israel searches for missing IDF soldier
The fresh wave of violence comes after the breakdown of the tentative 72-hour ceasefire agreement on Friday, with both sides trading accusations as to who fired first. According to RT’s Harry Fear, now in Ramallah, it is not clear who was the first to violate the ceasefire.
Of the 107 Palestinians killed in Gaza overnight, 35 died in the town of Rafah as Israel carried out air raids from midnight onward, according to AFP. Dozens were also killed in southern Gaza a few hours after the ceasefire began.
— UNRWA (@UNRWA) August 2, 2014
Hamas has been retaliating with mortar fire, Israel says, as IDF troops were searching for its missing soldier, Hadar Goldin, 23, a British passport holder, whom they say has been kidnapped by Hamas. This has led to a clear escalation in hostilities as Israel sticks to its warnings of increasing its presence in the West Bank.
Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livini said Hamas had kidnapped Goldin and promised the group would pay a high price.
Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam brigade, said the Israeli soldier may have been killed by Israeli shelling as the IDF targeted Hamas positions in southern Gaza.
"The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades have no information on this soldier. We have lost contact with one of our combatant groups, which was fighting in the sector where the soldier went missing and it is possible that our fighters and this soldier were killed," they said in a statement.
US President Barack Obama called for the Israeli soldier to be “unconditionally” released, while also insisting that not enough is being done to shield Gaza civilians from danger.
Elsewhere in the West Bank the IDF fired smoke grenades at a Palestinian protest rally. Witnesses say this later turned to gunfire, killing two Palestinians and injuring 70 others. Hamas called for a Day of Rage in south Gaza in response to the fatalities.
Warning: Graphic video below
An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on Friday broke down within hours, with Israel and Hamas blaming each other.
A Palestinian delegation, including Hamas representatives, was due to arrive later on Saturday in Cairo for new talks.
Large-scale protests against the Israeli offensive continue around the world. A pro-Palestinian group projected the flag of the Palestinian Authority onto London’s Houses of Parliament. They demanded an end to what they branded as a slaughter of civilians, and for the UK government to impose sanctions on Israel.
Protests continued in some of the world’s major cities over the weekend.
Protective Edge has become Israeli’s bloodiest operation against Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in recent years, with the Palestinian death toll now topping 1,550 - more than the 2008 operation. The IDF has lost more than 60 troops in the conflict.