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Ceasefire ends amid intense Rafah clashes

Aug. 1, 2014 11:24 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 2, 2014 5:27 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Intense clashes erupted Friday morning between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the southeastern Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants attacks a post and captured an Israeli soldier.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza said that at least 35 Palestinians were killed and more than 200 injured in Israeli shelling on Rafah that occurred in response to the attack.

The clashes came after Israeli forces shelled Gaza multiple times since the commencement of the ceasefire, killing four Palestinians. Before it came into effect at 8 a.m., Israel had already killed 16 Palestinians in strikes and shelling since midnight.

Fighters reportedly emerged on Friday morning from tunnels, firing mortar shells toward the Israeli region of Eshkol across the border.

One man approached Israeli forces and blew himself up during the operation.

Israel Channel 10 said that Israeli forces were chasing down the armed men east of Rafah and was trying to prevent them from going further into the city.

Clashes were ongoing in the areas of al-Nasser, the destroyed Gaza International Airport, al-Bilbeisi and al-Bayuk east of Gaza City.

The channel's reporter said that "armed Palestinians attacked Israeli forces in eastern Rafah city with shells, grenades, and automatic weapons, which led to clashes in the area."

An Israeli military spokesperson, meanwhile, said that the 72-hour ceasefire that was announced earlier was over and that military operations would "resume."

The Islamic Jihad-affiliated Palestine TV reported that the ceasefire had been "interrupted" because an Israeli soldier had gone missing.

Israeli authorities, meanwhile, warned the residents of local towns inside Israel to stay in their homes.

The reporter added that Israeli warplanes had "joined" the battle.

Israeli media reported earlier that there was a "serious security incident" in Kerem Shalom area, declaring the area a closed military zone.
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