40 Palestinians killed after collapse of truce
At least 40 Palestinians were killed and 200 others injured in Israeli shelling in southern Gaza Strip after the collapse of the three-day ceasefire which briefly began on Friday morning, medics reported.
Earlier, the Israeli government has informed U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon that the humanitarian ceasefire was over, Al Arabiya correspondent reported. Israel’s announcement comes after one of its army tank’s fire killed eight people in southern Gaza medics said, just hours after a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire took effect.
A doctor at a nearby Abu Yusef al-Najjar hospital gave no immediate details of the identities of those killed, but said they had died in a bombardment east of the southern city of Rafah, after an AFP correspondent saw heavy shelling of the area.
Clashes also erupted in Gaza after reports that Palestinians have captured an Israeli army officer.
Israel, meanwhile, accused Hamas of committing “fragrant breach” of Gaza truce.
“Once again the terror organizations in Gaza flagrantly violating the ceasefire to which they committed themselves, this time to the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.N. Secretary General,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, without pointing to a specific incident.
The truce went into effect Friday morning after the United States and United Nations announced that Israel and Hamas agreed to the humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip.
In a joint statement, the U.S. and U.N. said they had gotten confirmation that all parties to the conflict had agreed to an unconditional ceasefire, in which they would negotiate a longer truce.
The statement was released in New Delhi, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is now meeting with Indian officials.
Meanwhile, Kerry said he remained hopeful for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict but declined to predict when.
Kerry said he had remained in close contact on the telephone with players in the Middle East to try to end the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“The United States remains hopeful that it is achievable, and the sooner the better,” Kerry said of a ceasefire.
“There is no promise in that, but I think everybody would feel better if there was a bona fide effort,” Kerry told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.
Netanyahu’s annoucement came a day after the United States confirmed it had restocked Israel’s supplies of ammunition, hours after issuing a strong condemnation of an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza.
The Israeli military requested additional ammunition to restock its dwindling supplies on July 20, the Pentagon said. The U.S. Defense Department approved the sale just three days later.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
“This defense sale is consistent with those objectives.”
Two of the requested munitions came from a little-known stockpile of ammunition stored by the U.S. military on the ground in Israel for emergency use by the Jewish state. The War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel is estimated to be worth $1 billion.
Kirby stressed that those munitions had been in WRSA-I stock for “a few years, well before the current crisis.”
“All stocks in WRSA-I, as required by law, are ‘in excess to U.S. requirements,” he added.
Gaza officials say at least 1,361 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered enclave and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza clashes and more than 400 wounded. Three civilians have been killed in Palestinian shelling in Israel.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was incensed on Wednesday at the deaths of at least 15 Palestinians among thousands sheltering at a school whose U.N. administrator said appeared to have been hit by Israeli artillery.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday slammed what she said was Israel’s “deliberate defiance” of international law during the Gaza conflict.
Pillay lambasted the country’s attacks on homes, schools, hospitals and United Nations facilities in Gaza.
“None of this appears to me to be accidental,” she told reporters in statements carried by AFP.
“There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel.