Middle East

Israeli soldier missing, presumed dead in Gaza

Israeli infantry soldiers patrol near the border with the Gaza Strip on July 22, 2014, as they search for tunnels reportedly used by Palestinian militants from the coastal enclave to enter Israel. (AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: An Israeli soldier is missing in the Gaza Strip and presumed dead, local media quoted the military as saying Tuesday, two days after Hamas announced it had captured a soldier during clashes.

Israel's Channel 10 News said the military believed the man was killed along with six other troops in an attack on an armored vehicle Sunday. However, the army has only identified six bodies.

Hamas announced Sunday that it had captured an Israeli soldier but did not say whether he was dead or alive.

Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of the Hamas's armed wing, said the soldier was seized Sunday in heavy fighting on the Gaza border. He displayed a photo ID and army serial number of the man but showed no image of him in their hands.

An Israeli military statement Tuesday said the army had completed the identification of six of the soldiers killed and that "efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined."

It had already announced the seven deaths Sunday but did not immediately release all the names of the dead.

Israel launched a ground offensive Thursday into the Gaza Strip. The deadliest conflict in five years between Israel and the Palestinians has killed more than 550 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and 29 Israelis, 27 of them soldiers.

Hamas gained Palestinian acclaim and plaudits from backers in the Arab world when in 2011 it secured the release of an abducted Israeli conscript soldier, who was held five years, freeing more than 1,000 Palestinians prisoners in the process.





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