THE WORLDPOST
07/22/2014 03:15 am ET Updated Sep 21, 2014

Israeli Soldier Missing And Presumed Dead In Gaza: Reports

* Missing soldier was in armored vehicle attacked in Gaza

* Six others in vehicle dead, Hamas says soldier captured (Adds details, army quotes)

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM, July 22 (Reuters) - Israel said on Tuesday it had failed to trace any remains of one of its soldiers who it believes died in the Gaza Strip two days ago and whom Hamas said it had captured.

The Israeli military named the missing man as Oron Shaul, 21, who was traveling in an armored vehicle that was hit by at least one anti-tank missile fired by Palestinian fighters in Gaza on Sunday.

Six other soldiers were in the vehicle at the same time and their remains have all been identified, the army said in a statement. "The efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined," it added.

Hamas's armed wing announced on Sunday it had captured an Israeli soldier identified as Shaul Aron, revealing his army ID number, but not saying whether he was dead or alive.

The Israeli military has not clearly classified the soldier as missing, dead or alive. "There are question marks still left to be answered," said Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner.

He told reporters the APC was in a convoy when it was possibly hit by multiple missiles. "The result was dramatic and the devastation on the site was huge," he said.

"Over the last few days we have carried out extensive forensic examination and we have concluded that we have identified six (bodies). But we have not completed our forensic examination," he said.

FAMILY AWAITS NEWS

Shaul's cousin, Racheli Gazit, told reporters that the army had informed the family that its examination of the wrecked APC had so far not turned up any remains of her relative, but that there were more findings still being looked at.

"As far as the family is concerned, as long as there are no conclusive findings, Oron is not dead," she told reporters.

One Israeli official involved in the investigation suggested that Hamas might have the remains of the soldier.

"Everything in our analysis points to the soldier not having survived the incident. As far as we are concerned, Hamas is trafficking in human remains," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Israel launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip on Thursday to halt rocket fire out of the territory. Some 600 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and 29 Israelis, 27 of them soldiers, have died so far in the conflict.

Israel has agreed to mass releases of Palestinian prisoners in the past to secure the freedom of captured soldiers, or even for the return of the bodies of its citizens.

In 2011, it released more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for an abducted Israeli conscript soldier, whom Hamas had seized in a cross-border raid and held for five years.

Hamas' announcement on Sunday that it had captured an Israeli soldier sparked celebrations in Gaza. (Additional reporting by Dan Williams and Crispian Balmer; Writing by Maayan Lubell, Editing by Tom Heneghan)

08/08/2014 2:47 PM EDT

White House Concerned By Renewed Fighting

From Reuters:

The White House on Friday urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks and do what they can to protect civilians after Egyptian-mediated negotiations failed to extend a ceasefire and rocket fire resumed.

"The United States is very concerned about today's developments in Gaza," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

"We condemn the renewed rocket fire and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of that conflict," he said.

08/08/2014 1:42 PM EDT

Official: 5 Palestinians Killed In Gaza

Five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since a ceasefire fell apart on Friday, a Palestinian medical official reported to Agence France Presse.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired 35 rockets into Israel on Friday, injuring a soldier and a civilian.

gaza

The father of a ten-year old Palestinian boy, who was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, mourns at the city's Al-Shifa hospital, on August 8, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

08/08/2014 9:23 AM EDT

Palestinian Delegation Says Gaza Talks Will Continue

From Reuters:

Palestinian factions will remain in Cairo and press on with Egyptian-mediated talks despite the end of the ceasefire in Gaza, the head of the delegation, Fatah official Azzam Ahmed, said on Friday.

"We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brothers in negotiating to reach a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Ahmed said. "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza."

Ahmed said Palestinian negotiators were due to meet Egyptian intelligence officials, who have been mediating the talks, later in the day. He said Palestinian factions were united in their decision not to extend the 72-hour truce that ended at 0500 GMT and had been clear about their basic demands to end the conflict.

08/08/2014 9:13 AM EDT

Egypt: Agreement Close In Gaza Talks

Reuters reports:

Egypt called on Friday for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to the negotiating table, saying that only a few outstanding issues remained in negotiations it was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities ... and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

08/08/2014 3:58 AM EDT

Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Resume

08/08/2014 3:02 AM EDT

Cease-Fire Ends With New Rocket Attacks

A 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. today, and not long after, Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel, The Associated Press reported.

The Israeli military said at least 10 rockets had been fired at Israel since the truce ended. Prior to the attacks, a senior official for Hamas said the militant groups would not extend the cease-fire.

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08/06/2014 2:46 PM EDT

Official: Israel Agrees To Extend Ceasefire

From Reuters:

Israel has conditionally agreed to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond a Friday deadline, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official did not say for how much longer Israel had agreed to extend the truce, only that: "Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms," referring to the deal brokered by Egypt that took effect on Tuesday.

Hamas had no immediate comment.

08/06/2014 2:12 PM EDT

IDF: Rocket Sirens Were False Alarm

08/06/2014 1:18 PM EDT

Report: Rocket Sirens Sound At Gaza Border

ABC Foreign Editor Jon Williams reports that the IDF have confirmed the rocket sirens are sounding, but are checking to see if it is a false alarm.

08/05/2014 4:20 PM EDT

Israel Arrests Kidnapping Suspect

Reuters reports that Israel has arrested one of the suspects in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.

Hussam Kawasme, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, was arrested on July 11 in connection with the killing of Israelis Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who went missing on June 12 and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later.

Their kidnapping sparked a cycle of violence that led to the month-long conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Kawasme's arrest was made public for the first time on Tuesday in a document from an Israeli court case over whether houses belonging to him and two other suspects - who remain at large - should be destroyed as a punitive measure.

The lawyers listed as representing Kawasme were not reachable for comment.

The court document said Kawasme had admitted to helping to organize the kidnapping - securing funding from the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza and purchasing weapons which he passed on to the two other suspects who carried out the attack.

Kawasme also helped to bury the bodies of the teenagers in a plot of land he had bought a few months earlier, it said.

Israel has named the other two suspects in the case as Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha.

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