Israel resumes military operations in Gaza

A three-day Gaza cease-fire that began Friday quickly unraveled, with Israel and Hamas accusing each other of violating the truce as four PalestinNEWS.GNOM.ES were killed in a heavy exchange of fire in Rafah. (Aug. 1) AP

Yousef Al-Helou, Ilana Conway and Jennifer Collins, Special for USA TODAY 7:11 a.m. EDT August 1, 2014

GAZA CITY — Israel’s military resumed its operations in Gaza on Friday, as a fragile truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed with both sides accusing the other of breaching a planned 72-hour agreement just a few hours after it started.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the cease-fire to collapse but Gazan Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra told The Associated Press that at least 35 PalestinNEWS.GNOM.ES were killed as a result of Israeli shelling on Friday. Those deaths came only a few hours after the cease-fire formally began.

Israel’s military said the shelling was in response to rocket fire from Hamas militants. It also said there were fears that a missing Israeli soldier may have been abducted by Gaza militants. A kidnapping has not been confirmed.

The cease-fire — for humanitarian purposes — was due to last three days. At least four short humanitarian cease-fires have been announced since the conflict began and all have been broken within a few hours.

“Once again, Hamas and the terror organizations in Gaza have blatantly broken the cease-fire to which they committed,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. There was no immediate formal comment from Hamas.

Some Gazans are skeptical about bringing an end to the conflict through diplomacy and questioned U.S. and Egyptian support for Israel in any peace talks. “They are not honest brokers,” said Hani Abu Zaid, from Gaza City.

More than 1,450 PalestinNEWS.GNOM.ES in Gaza have been killed since the conflict began on July 8, mostly civilNEWS.GNOM.ES. Israel says at least 56 of its soldiers have died along with three civilNEWS.GNOM.ES.

Al-Helou reported from Gaza City, Conway from Tel Aviv and Collins from Berlin.

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