By Mario Trujillo - 08/01/14 07:33 AM EDT
A planned three-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appeared to collapse Friday morning, after both sides accused the other of violating the new deal.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Hamas had "torpedoed" the deal an hour and a half after it went into effect. On MSNBC, he said Hamas launched an attack at 9:30 a.m. local time Friday and appeared to have kidnapped an Israeli soldier.
Netanyahu's office blamed Hamas for violating the truce in an earlier statement.
"Once again the terror organizations in Gaza flagrantly violating the ceasefire to which they committed themselves, this time to the US Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General," his office said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
AFP reported Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel only minutes before the cease-fire took effect at 8 a.m. local time.
The cease-fire had been announced by Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon only hours earlier.
The break in fighting was supposed to give Palestinian civilians a reprieve and allow for humanitarian assistance. More than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in the monthlong fighting, while nearly 60 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
The cease-fire was also supposed to be the start of longer-term negotiations between all sides in Egypt.
Kerry had cautioned “there are no guarantees” when announcing the cease-fire Thursday.
"Everyone knows that it will not be easy even to get beyond this point, but it is imperative that people make the best effort to try to find common ground and do so," he said.
The cease-fire called for both sides to end offensive activity. Israel would have been able to carry out defense operations to combat tunnels behind its own lines.
"So we hope that this moment of opportunity will be grabbed by the parties, but no one can force them to do that, obviously," Kerry said earlier Thursday.
Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken "strongly condemned" Hamas's action Friday, which he described as "using the cover of a cease-fire to conduct a surprise attack through a tunnel, killing Israeli soldiers, and perhaps taking one hostage."
He said Kerry is communicating with Netanyahu and that the main thing is to have the soldier released.
"As Secretary Kerry said last night in announcing this humanitarian pause, that it was incredibly fragile, and unfortunately, we have seen the demonstration that that is true," he said on MSNBC.