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Violence, Casualties Continue as Israel Resumes Airstrikes on Gaza

As 72-hour ceasefire ends, international community calls on Israeli and Palestinian representatives to return to the negotiating table

A Palestinian resident walks amongst the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza. (Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan/July 2014)

A 10-year-old Palestinian boy was among the first in new round of casualties on Friday as Israel resumed airstrikes on Gaza after a 72-hour ceasefire.

The truce formally ended at 8 am Friday, at which point Hamas reportedly began firing rockets into Israel, Reuters reports. Israel responded with airstrikes that killed the boy near a mosque in Gaza City, according to the BBC.

In Gaza, the Guardian reports that "tens of thousands of people who had returned to their homes during the 72-hour ceasefire rushed back to the UN-run shelters where many have been staying since the war began more than four weeks ago."

At one school, 800 people who had left in recent days returned on Friday morning as news of the renewed fighting broke. One was Nidal Sultan, 21, who had driven with six members of his family from the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

"We were in the school on the first day of the ceasefire and came back this morning," he said. "There were strikes and shelling in the last hour or so. It's not safe, so we have to come to the school however bad it is. We will stay now until the war stops."

Egyptian officials called on both sides to return to the negotiating table, claiming "very limited sticking points" remain in reaching agreement on a long-term ending of hostilities, according to USA Today.

Palestinian officials said Friday afternoon that they were willing to resume negotiations on a new ceasefire. Hamas is calling for an end to the blockade on Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt and an opening of all the border crossings to allow the free flow of people and goods. The Israeli government said in a statement that “Israel will not hold negotiations under fire.”

In a statement responding to the renewed violence, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed "deep disappointment that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of the ceasefire in their talks in Cairo. He condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable." He urged both sides to resume a humanitarian ceasefire and "to continue negotiations in Cairo to reach a durable ceasefire."

1,893 Palestinians have died, most of whom were civilians and over 400 of whom were children, and 9,805 Palestinians have been wounded since the latest round of fighting began in July. Israel's government says 64 soldiers have been killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai national. Tens of thousands of Gazan homes have also been destroyed in the bombardment that has left hundreds of thousands of Gazans dispaced. 

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