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Israel launches fresh attacks as Gaza militants fire rockets

Israel launches fresh attacks as Gaza militants fire rockets

PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel has carried out fresh attacks on Gaza and militants have launched more rockets into Israel as a hunt continues for a missing Israeli soldier, BBC News reports.

Palestinian officials said 47 people died overnight in Israeli strikes, most of them in Rafah, where the soldier, Hadar Goldin, went missing. A series of rocket attacks into Israel were reported on Saturday, Aug 2 morning.

At least 1,600 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 63 Israelis, mainly soldiers, have died in the conflict. A Thai worker was also killed in Israel.

A 72-hour ceasefire had been agreed, starting from Friday morning, but collapsed hours later. Hamas accused Israel of breaking the ceasefire but the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had been forced to respond to militant rocket fire.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday described the crisis as "heartbreaking" and said he would work to secure another truce.

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, which controls Gaza, said it had fired three rockets at Tel Aviv. At least two were reportedly shot down by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Egypt's state-run news agency Mena reported on Saturday that Egypt's Rafah border crossing with Gaza had been reopened for humanitarian reasons, to help the casualties.

Israel said he may have been captured during an ambush in which two other soldiers were killed.

In a statement early on Saturday, the Qassam Brigades said it lost contact with a group of fighters in the area where the soldier went missing, saying: "We believe they were all killed in the [Israeli] bombardment. Assuming that they managed to seize the soldier during combat, we assess that he was also killed in the incident."

There were clashes in the West Bank on Friday as thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to protest against Israel's offensive.

Two Palestinian protesters were shot dead in separate incidents after violence got out of control, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

Israel began an aerial campaign on July 8with the intention of halting rocket attacks from Gaza, and later launched ground operations to target rocket launching sites and tunnels use by militants to infiltrate Israel. There have been numerous attempts to hold ceasefires but none have lasted, with both sides accusing each other of breaking the truces.

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