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Israeli officer captured before Gaza truce: Hamas leader tells AA

An Israeli officer was captured and two soldiers were killed ahead of the start of a 72-humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip on Friday, senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq has said.

"There is no justification for Israel to violate the truce as the officer was captured and the two soldiers were killed ahead of the truce," Abu Marzouq told Anadolu Agency.

He said that Palestinian factions were abiding by the truce and were only responding to Israeli "aggression".

"Israel ended the truce unilaterally," Abu Marzouq said. "We are committed to the truce and only respond to aggression."

An Israeli official earlier said on Friday that a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip had collapsed.

At least 40 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 others injured in Israeli shelling of Rafah city in southern Gaza Strip.

Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip for almost four weeks, which killed at least 1458 Palestinians and injured more than 8300 others.

Israel claims that the offensive aims to undermine the ability of Palestinian factions to fire rockets at Israeli cities.

According to Israeli figures, at least 61 soldiers have been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters and three civilians by rocket fire.

Israel's military operation, codenamed "Operation Protective Edge," is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely-populate Gaza Strip – which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians – within the last six years.

Report by Hagar al-Dosoki, for Anadolu Agency


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