Israel-Gaza conflict: Soldier ‘captured in tunnel attack’ by militants could be British-Israeli

Heather Saul — The Independent August 1, 2014

Tunnel in GazaA soldier Israel suspects has been captured by militants as a three-day ceasefire unravelled is a British-Israeli cousin of the defence minister Moshe Ya’alon, it has been reported.

The Israeli Defence Forces named the serviceman as Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba. Channel 4 News reports he is understood to be a second or third cousin of the defence minister.

The Foreign Office has said it is aware of the reports and is “urgently looking them”.

The army said they believe the soldier went missing in the Rafah area of Gaza when the Israeli military was attacked during a continued operation to destroy tunnels they suspect are used by militants to gain access into Israel.

“Out of a tunnel access point or several, terrorists came out of the ground. At least one was a suicide terrorist who detonated himself. There was an exchange of fire,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.

He said two soldiers were killed during the incident at 9.30am local time on Friday, bringing the total number of Israeli soldiers who have died during the conflict to 63.

Hamas has not commented on claims it captured the soldier.

The White House warned the reported attack would be a “barbaric” violation of the ceasefire. CNN reported the US Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, also called for the release of the solider.

Officials in Gaza say 35 Palestinians were killed by Israeli shelling just hours after the ceasefire began this morning.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra told The Associated Press that in addition to the dead some 200 Palestinians were wounded in shelling of the Rafah area in southern Gaza.

Both sides have blamed each other for the ceasefire collapsing. A spokesperson for Hamas was quoted by the BBC as saying: “The Israelis are the ones who breached the ceasefire, and the Palestinian resistance acted in a way that ensures its right of self-defence.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said eight rockets and mortar bombs were fired from Gaza, adding that one was intercepted by the Iron Dome system and seven hit open areas.

The office of the Israeli Prime Minister released a statement claiming the truce was broken by Hamas, saying: “Once again, Hamas and the terror organisations in Gaza have blatantly broken the ceasefire to which they committed, this time before the American Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General.”

The ceasefire was announced earlier in a joint statement by Mr Kerry and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon amid a rapidly climbing death toll since hostilities began on 8 July.

Palestinian officials say more than 1,499 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 7,000 wounded. Israel says that alongside the deaths of 63 of its soldiers, two civilians and a Thai national have died and more than 400 have been injured.

A spokesperson for Mercy Corps, who are delivering humanitarian assistance in Gaza, said administering aid was becoming increasingly difficult.

Mr Kerry had warned ahead of the truce it was “a respite, not an end” to the conflict.

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