Several major news organizations report Thursday that an Israeli soldier may have been kidnapped. The Israeli military is investigating a statement by a female soldier who says she witnessed another soldier being forced into a car by 2 civilian-clad men near an army base next to Ben Gurion airport.
Dozens of makeshift roadblocks were erected by Israeli security forces in the center of the country causing massive traffic jams throughout Israel's most populated areas. The Israeli army conducted comprehensive checks on all active-duty and reservist soldiers but has not found any to be missing so far.
At the same time, Maan, the Palestinian News Agency, said that it received and email from the "Al-Quds Army", a relatively obscure group with vague ties to the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hizbolah. In the email, the group claimed responsibility for snatching the soldier. The "Al-Quds Army" says, "A group of our resistance fighters captured an Israeli soldier near Ben Gurion airport and withdrew along with the soldier peacefully - later we will give details about the captured soldier."
No details have yet emerged.
The huge security operation to search for this allegedly missing individual underscores Israel's fears about the welfare of its soldiers. The Jewish state has gone to great lengths to secure the release of its soldiers - or even their corpses. Greatly lopsided prisoner exchanges have been common in a country where each soldier solemnly vows never to abandon a comrade-in-arms.
When 2 Israeli soldiers were captured on the Lebanese border by a Shiite Islamic militia allied to Hamas in 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon.
Later, Israel swapped an infamous terrorist in an Israeli jail for the remains of the 2 soldiers.
This latest episode comes as the fate of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still uncertain after he was kidnapped during a cross-border attack by Hamas allies from Gaza 3 years ago. Egypt's attempts to secure Schallit's freedom are stymied by Hama's insistence on the release of hundreds Palestinian prisoners, many of whom Israel says have "blood on their hands" from attacks on Israelis.