Gaza death toll hits 1,694, Hamas denies holding soldier

Gaza death toll hits 1,694, Hamas denies holding soldier
Sat Aug 2, 2014 17:55:09

Israeli war jets on Saturday bombed a mosque in the northern Gaza town of Jabalia, a major university in Gaza City and flattened houses in a beach side neighborhood, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 1,694 as Hamas denied it kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Saturday's killings come a day after Israeli forces committed horrifying massacres in the southern town of Rafah, slaughtering about more than 150 men, women and children after the killing of two Israeli soldiers.

According to Gaza medics, at least 108 Gazans killed in Saturday offensiv while more than 9,000 were also injured during the 25-day-long offensives.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the ambush the Israeli army officer, but said the group has lost contact with the fighters involved in the operation, and suggested that they may have been killed by Israeli shelling along with their prisoner of war.

"We lost contact with the (Hamas) troops deployed in the ambush and assess that these troops were probably killed by enemy bombardment, including the soldier said to be missing -- presuming that our troops took him prisoner during the clash," Hamas said in a statement issued in Arabic and English.

"The Qassam Brigades has no information as of this time about the missing soldier, his whereabouts, or the circumstances of his disappearance."

Despite continuous Israeli shelling, a Palestinian delegation was due to arrive in Cairo for talks on the terms of a durable truce, however, even after the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire fell apart within hours starting on Friday.

But the chances of a new truce seemed remote after Israel unilaterally violates the ceasefire, claiming that Hamas fighters captured Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, in an attack near the southern Gaza city of Rafah that killed two other soldiers.

In the violence that ensued, at least 108 Palestinians were killed in Israel air strikes on the Gaza Strip, including 35 since midnight, officials said.

In Israel, the Iron Dome air defence system intercepted two rockets fired from Gaza over the Tel Aviv area and another over the southern city of Beersheba, the army said.

The Qassam Brigades said they had fired three rockets at Tel Aviv.


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