Massive explosions lit up the night sky in Gaza early Saturday (August 2), as Israeli shelling continued one day after a planned 72-hour ceasefire ended some 90 minutes after it began.
Strongly condemning the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning in the Gaza Strip, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed deep concern about renewed Israeli attacks on the tiny enclave, which have reportedly killed more than 70 Palestinians.
“He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments,” said Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, reading out a statement at UN Headquarters on the collapse of a humanitarian ceasefire brokered by the UN and the United States to help end nearly a month of violence.
On Thursday, the UN reported that all parties had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in the conflict in the Gaza Strip, brokered by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry. A halt in fighting would allow for the immediate and necessary delivery of aid to civilians deeply affected by the recent violence.
A strong mobilization of resources is required to meet the most urgent needs, particularly those stemming from the massive number of displaced persons and those arising from wide-scale damage to infrastructure
Underscoring that the UN has no independent means to verify exactly what happened to derail the pause, the spokesperson said that, according to the latest reports, two Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers were killed and one taken captive after the humanitarian ceasefire came into effect.
“This would constitute a grave violation of the ceasefire, and one that is likely to have very serious consequences for the people of Gaza, Israel and beyond,” he said, adding: “Such moves call into question the credibility of Hamas’ assurances to the United Nations. The Secretary-General demands the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldier.
Thick smoke billowed from buildings in central Gaza but it was unclear what area was hit.
At least 1,592 Palestinians have been killed since the start of hostilities on July 8 when Israel launched its drive to halt militant rocket fire on its territory from the coastal enclave by unleashing air and naval bombardments. Tanks and infantry pushed into the territory of 1.8 million people on July 17.
Sixty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed, and Palestinian rockets have killed three civilians in Israel.
FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS