Israeli shells pound Gaza as fate of missing soldier remains unknown

Gaza City (CNN) — The bloodshed in Gaza showed no sign of letting up Saturday, with 50 Palestinians reported killed amid renewed Israeli shelling following accusations that Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier.

The fate of the soldier, identified by the Israel Defense Forces as 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, remains unclear.

And each side blames the other for the collapse of an attempted cease-fire in Friday, which disintegrated before it ever really took hold.

Pointing the finger at Hamas and its militant allies for the attack, in which Goldin went missing and two other soldiers were killed, Israel resumed shelling on what it has described as militant strongholds in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to deliver a statement on Israeli operations in Gaza at 9 p.m. Saturday (2 p.m. ET) from Tel Aviv, according to his office.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told CNN’s Nic Robertson Saturday that Israel’s presence and destruction of tunnels in Gaza during an agreed-upon cease-fire was “unacceptable,” saying that “a truce is a truce, but the presence of the Israeli forces inside Gaza and destroying the tunnels means it’s an aggression.”

“The Palestinian resistance has the right to self-defense and the right to deal with the invading Israeli forces who are inside our Gaza territories,” Meshaal said in an exclusive interview from Doha, Qatar. He added that Hamas expressed its position to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry via Qatar’s Foreign Minister.

“We did not deceive Mr. John Kerry, and we did not deceive the Israelis, we fight honorably,” he said. “We told everyone that this is our position. … Therefore they are the ones who should be responsible for this.”

As of Saturday, the overall Palestinian death toll has risen to 1,650, with more than 8,900 wounded, said Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, on his Facebook page.

The IDF said Saturday morning that it had hit 200 “terror targets” in Gaza in the past 24 hours, including “tunnels, weapon manufacturing and storage facilities, and command and control centers.”

A huge predawn blast rocked Gaza as the Islamic University was apparently hit by Israeli shelling. According to the IDF, it was targeting “a Hamas military wing facility” involved in weapons development within the building.

In addition, Israeli aircraft targeted a missile launcher used to fire at Tel Aviv early Saturday, the IDF said.

The missing soldier

By late Friday, there was no claim of responsibility for the capture of the missing soldier.

But speculation about his fate took a turn after the armed wing of Hamas, the al Qassam Brigades, announced it had lost contact with a group of its fighters in the Rafah area — the same area where Goldin, age 23, was reportedly taken.

Read More: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/02/world/meast/mideast-crisis/

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