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4 Palestinians killed after Gaza truce begins

Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame

Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A three-day Gaza cease-fire that began Friday quickly unraveled, with Israel and Hamas accusing each other of violating the truce as four Palestinians were killed in a heavy exchange of fire in the southern town of Rafah.

The cease-fire, announced by the U.S. and the U.N. hours earlier, took effect at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) Friday after heavy fighting that killed 17 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers.

Israel and Hamas agreed to halt all aggressive operations and conduct only defensive missions. But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned there were "no guarantees" that the lull would bring an end to the war, now in its fourth week.

Nearly two hours after the cease-fire went into effect, Israeli tanks shelled the eastern part of Rafah, which lies close to Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt, killing at least four people and wounding 15, said Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra and Gaza police spokesman Ayman Batniji. An Israeli Army spokesman said a heavy exchange of fire had erupted in the Rafah area, without providing further details.

"Once again, Hamas and the terror organizations in Gaza have blatantly broken the cease-fire to which they committed, this time before the American Secretary of State and the U.N. Secretary General," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Israel launched an aerial campaign against Gaza aimed at halting Palestinian rocket fire on July 8 and later sent in ground troops to target launch sites and tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks inside Israel. The war has killed more than 1,450 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and more than 60 Israelis, nearly all soldiers.

At least four short humanitarian cease-fires have been announced since the conflict began, but each has been broken within a few hours by renewed fighting. Friday's temporary cease-fire was the longest to be announced thus far.

Under the cease-fire, Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza can continue to destroy tunnels along the heavily guarded frontier, but only those that are behind Israeli defensive lines and lead into Israel.

Netanyahu on Thursday vowed to destroy Hamas' tunnel network "with or without a cease-fire." But military spokesman Moti Almoz told Army Radio on Friday that Israel would not be able to eliminate the tunnel threat "100 percent."

Soon after the cease-fire went into force, Gaza's residents took advantage of the truce to return to their homes, many of which had been destroyed in the fighting. Some arrived on tuk-tuks - three-wheeled taxis - by car or on foot to retrieve their belongings.

Near a main road in in the heavily bombarded Gaza district of Shijaiyah, less than a mile from the Israeli border, residents surveyed extensive damage.

Basem Abul Qumbus returned to find his three-story home -- in which he had invested tens of thousands of dollars -- uninhabitable. Tank shells had punched a hole in the ceiling of one bedroom and a wall had collapsed into the kitchen.

"The work of all those years is gone," he said, as he struggled to salvage flour from bags that had been torn apart by shrapnel. Food supplies are running short in the blockaded coastal territory in the war's fourth week.

Egypt issued a statement early Friday calling on the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and Israel to send negotiation teams to Cairo to discuss "all issues of concern to each party within the framework of the Egyptian initiative."

Egypt had put forth a cease-fire proposal a week after fighting began last month. Israel accepted the proposal, but Hamas, which deeply mistrusts Egypt following last summer's overthrow of an Islamist government in Cairo, rejected it.

Hamas has demanded the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian border blockade imposed on Gaza in 2007 when the Islamic militant group seized power, as well as the release of Palestinians rounded up in the West Bank in June following the killing of three Israeli teenagers.

In recent weeks Turkey and Qatar, which have warmer ties to Hamas but are at odds with Egypt, have tried to help broker a cease-fire agreement, with no results.

It's not clear whether other nations will attend the Egypt talks, and aides to Kerry said Egypt will ultimately decide who will participate. A Hamas official in Qatar said Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials would be participating. Israel will not meet directly with members of either group because it considers them terrorist organizations.

Hours before the cease-fire was to take effect, 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes, including 10 from the same family, according to al-Kidra, the Health Ministry official in Gaza. He said the family members were killed in an airstrike on their home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

Israel's military said five of its soldiers were killed along the Gaza border Thursday evening by a mortar round.

More than 1,450 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since hostilities began July 8, according to Palestinian officials. Israel says 61 of its soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed.

Hours ahead of the cease-fire, Gaza police reported heavy Israeli tank shelling in northern and eastern Gaza, and the loud exchange of fire with militants could be heard across Gaza City. Tank shells slammed into the city itself, setting homes and shops ablaze.

Hamas fighters hit an Israeli tank with an anti-tank missile, Gaza police said. The militants then attacked Israeli troops who came to evacuate the tank crew. Clashes continued into the early morning hours, police said.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the matter.

Israeli police meanwhile warned residents to stay away from Israeli communities near the Gaza border during the cease-fire, saying the area remains "a war zone."

"We ask the public to heed the orders of the police and army and not to go to the Gaza Strip border area, it is a threat to your life!!!" the police said in a statement.

Police said Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in a number of neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, and that Israelis attacked an empty bus. Police also restricted the entry of worshippers to a key Muslim holy site in the city to prevent disturbances.

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Join the discussion

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donrahilly August 01 2014 at 5:55 AM

You are saying that Israel committed a "flagrant" violation of the truce by tank fire. They were responding to fire from Hamas. Now you know why people are beginning to distrust HP. When obviously slanted news is put to the public enough times people resent it. Good luck on the future of Huffpost.

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26 replies
FRED August 01 2014 at 5:42 AM

Of course mostly civilians on the Hamas side were killed, they hide behind them and mostly soldiers from Israel were killed because they protect their civilians. It is simple as that. I sure hope Kerry doesn't end this war before there is a victory for Israel.

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19 replies
aaldrew August 01 2014 at 5:40 AM

There was a reason the Israels shot. Hamas broke the truce.

Flag Reply +87 rate up
3 replies
xpphil12 August 01 2014 at 6:11 AM

Why is HP slanting the news in favor of Hamas,the terrorist rulers of Gaza? Most understand where the community organizer is coming from.Is HP just trying to please the community organizer or are the just plain anti semetic?Is it more dumb political correct thinking with jews being white and terrorists being dark skinned?

Flag Reply +75 rate up
9 replies
coopdabomb August 01 2014 at 6:16 AM

Finish the job Israel

Flag Reply +74 rate up
2 replies
Mykittygoesmeow coopdabomb August 01 2014 at 8:57 AM

mjmjupiter, the current history is that Hamas is shooting rockets and Israel has a right to defend itself.

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1 reply
flmanbythec Mykittygoesmeow August 01 2014 at 9:36 AM

WRONG answer, because you proved you know NOTHING of the past which is the root and cause of this conflict. Please stop commenting until you have some REAL understanding and knowledge.
PS this recent conflict started when Israel BLAMED the murder on Hamas wothout any proof and began to take out Hamas members. Israel has yet to prove just who killed those kids.

Flag +1 rate up
rcpollock1 coopdabomb August 01 2014 at 9:32 AM

I believe you are correct and I feel terrible about what needs to happen in Gaza. The innocents are used as shields. Hamas are simply a bunch a Vikings which are humane compared to Hamas' actions. Gaza will need to be leveled.

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frankiegallo33 August 01 2014 at 6:11 AM

Hamas broke the truce and Israel defended itself. PERIOD !
Sorry Obama, Kerry, Hillary, & Valerie Jarrett, Israel will defeat & kill the terrorists called Hamas, and your favorite horse in this race , Iran, will not get it's way.

Flag Reply +68 rate up
xhertx August 01 2014 at 6:03 AM

why are you making it sound like Israel broke the truce??? I have no doubt that Hamas purposefully broke the truce by shooting rockets. AOL, sick of your bias against Israel!!!!

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3 replies
tmccull52 August 01 2014 at 5:41 AM

"Under the cease-fire, Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza can continue to destroy tunnels along the heavily guarded frontier, but only those that are behind Israeli defensive lines and lead into Israel."

And all the while, Hamas will continue to dig new tunnels, and without any such restrictions.

Flag Reply +49 rate up
2 replies
Tspoon tmccull52 August 01 2014 at 8:28 AM

How can Isreal properly defend themselfves when the deck is always stacked against them? Was it Kerry that came up with what tunnels and where they are that could be destroyed? He is still a coward!

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kdarmon58 tmccull52 August 01 2014 at 9:40 AM

They need to tell Kerry to go home. So the men can sit and talk this out. But I don't feel that talking is going to do anything this time. Hamas must be removed for good they are causing the deaths for innocent people by hiding behind them. COWARDS!!!

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jfsinc1929 August 01 2014 at 5:48 AM

Maybe the Gaza "civilians" are actually their "soldiers" that don't dress in army attire - or belong to an "army" so they're classified as civilians. I say go ahead and nuke them and be done with that segment of terrorists.

Flag Reply +41 rate up
frankiegallo33 August 01 2014 at 6:38 AM

Sorry Obama, Kerry, Hillary & Valerie Jarrett, Israel will obliterate Hamas and your favorite horse , Iran , will not be empowered.

Flag Reply +24 rate up
2 replies
mrjoeped frankiegallo33 August 01 2014 at 9:05 AM

Pay attention frankie. The us is now and has always been and will always be Israel's best friend. BTW frankie, it was Bush 2 who removed Iran's implacable enemy, Iraq, from the table, leaving Iran free to wreak havoc in their little corner of the world. Your disinformation is dismissed.

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englishfleck frankiegallo33 August 01 2014 at 9:17 AM

Please get your news outside of FAUX .

Iran has increased its power locally and on the international level because Saddam was removed from power.

Perhaps Rush Limbaugh can blame Obama for that and you lemmings would eat it up.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
gmcorbin958 englishfleck August 01 2014 at 10:33 AM

Please give us a example of Rush being wrong and Do Please tell us what New source we should be getting our News from!

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