GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Gaza cease-fire quickly unraveled Friday as violence broke out in a southern town in the war-ravaged strip, killing at least 44 Palestinians. The Israeli military said two soldiers were killed and an infantry officer was feared captured during fighting.
Israel and Hamas accused each other of breaking the cease-fire, which had been announced by the U.S. and the U.N. and took effect at 8:00 a.m. Friday. The fighting broke out less than two hours later.
The breakdown of the truce and the apparent capture of the Israeli soldier set the stage for a major escalation of the 25-day-old conflict, which has already devastated large swaths of the coastal area and killed at least 1,500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to Palestinian officials. Israel has lost 63 soldiers and three civilians.
An hour after Friday's cease-fire started, gunmen emerged from one or more Gaza tunnels and opened fire at Israeli soldier, with at least one of the militants detonating an explosives vest, said Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.