U.S. seeks help after Israeli soldier feared kidnapped

The humanitarian ceasefire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militant group Hamas was originally intended to last for 72 hours

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seeks urgent help from Qatar and Turkey to free a kidnapped Israeli soldier in Gaza, whose reported abduction led to the collapse of a ceasefire in the morning.

Turkey agreed to do whatever it can to help free the Israeli soldier, but prioritized the reinstatement of a truce, the country’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday.

“What is important is that the ceasefire is reinstated. To ensure this…we can take any step that could resolve this Israeli soldier issue,” Davutoglu told reporters.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded that the abducted Israeli soldier be released immediately and condemned “in the strongest terms the reported violation” by Hamas of the ceasefire.

“The Secretary-General demands the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldier,” said a statement from his spokesman, according to AFP.

The humanitarian ceasefire - which had been announced by the United Nations and the United States - between Israeli forces and Palestinian militant group Hamas was originally intended to last for 72 hours, but broke down after just 90 minutes.

Israel accused Hamas of committing “fragrant breach” of the Gaza truce, which was supposed to last for 72 hours but imploded in the early hours of Friday morning.

“Once again the terror organizations in Gaza flagrantly violating the ceasefire to which they committed themselves, this time to the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.N. Secretary General,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said, without pointing to a specific incident.

On the same day, the U.S. State Department condemned the killing and apparent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, calling it an “outrageous violation of ceasefire” in the Gaza strip.

Despite having relatively little involvement, Turkey and Qatar hope to help bring about an end to the Gaza conflict, while Washington has shown has shown some readiness to support Turkish-Qatari peace overtures.

Gaza officials say at least 1,361 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered enclave and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza clashes and more than 400 wounded. Three civilians have been killed in Palestinian shelling in Israel.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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