GAZA CITY (CNN) — A cease-fire in Gaza appeared to be unraveling Friday only hours after it took effect as both sides accused each other of violating the fledgling truce.
An Israeli official told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Hamas has been attacking Israeli forces inside Gaza on Friday morning, describing it as “a grave violation” of the cease-fire.
The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the Palestinian reports of shelling in Rafah. But it said that rockets and mortars had been fired into Israel later Friday.
But Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said an Israeli attack on Rafah in southern Gaza killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 100 on Friday, said
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said assault involved Israeli artillery shelling, calling it a “violation of the cease-fire.”
Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan told CNN that the latest cease-fire attempt between Israel and Hamas made it clear that there was to be no military action whatsoever, and Israel violated it by attacking houses in Rafah, Hamas is still committed to the cease-fire, but will protect itself, he said.
The humanitarian truce had been announced Thursday by the United Nations and United States, after weeks of fighting and more than 1,500 deaths in Gaza, most of them civilians. It came into effect at 8 a.m. Friday in Gaza (1 a.m. ET).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said the halt to hostilities was planned to last for 72 hours and provide an opportunity to seek a more lasting solution to the conflict.
“During this time, the forces on the ground will remain in place,” a joint statement by the United Nations and United States said.
Many Gaza residents have seen their neighborhoods hit hard and loved ones killed or wounded since Israel began Operation Protective Edge against Hamas on July 8.
Around a quarter of a million people in the small, impoverished territory have been displaced by the conflict, according to the United Nations. That’s about 14% of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million.
The cease-fire allows food and medical supplies to come and in, better care for the injured and burial of the dead.
Under the truce, Israeli and Palestinian officials are expected to meet in Cairo to try to reach “a durable cease-fire,” the U.N. and U.S. statement said. “The parties will be able to raise issues of concern in these negotiations.”
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