"The ceasefire seems to have lasted for maybe 90 minutes this morning, a tragic loss of opportunity for both sides to end the cycle of fear and suffering," UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was quoted as saying.

"We need to get back to that,” he added.

The UN said that it had received reports by midday in New York that more than 70 Palestinian civilians and two Israeli soldiers were killed and one Israeli soldier captured in Gaza.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "in the strongest terms the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire."

More than 1,620 Palestinians have been killed and some 8,700 people have been injured since Israel stepped up an offensive Gaza on July 8.

On the Israel side, 61 soldiers and three civilians were killed.

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