The Israeli military said on Friday that a Gaza ceasefire that went into effect earlier on Friday is now over and military operations were in progress on the ground.
Asked during a media conference call if the ceasefire was over, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said: “Yes. We are continuing our activities on the ground.”
His comments followed reports that 40 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli shelling and Israel had accused Gaza militants of violating the US and UN-brokered truce by firing rockets and mortars.
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The Israeli military meanwhile said one of its soldiers was “feared” abducted, without providing further details, and that Gaza militants had fired eight rockets and mortars at Israel since the cease-fire began, one of which was intercepted.
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 nearly 1,500 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 were to continue to destroy tunnels along the heavily guarded frontier, but only those that are behind Israeli defensive lines and lead into Israel.