Israel will keep fighting Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip after the army completes its mission of destroying cross-border tunnels, says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“After completing the anti-tunnel operation, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will act and continue to act, in accordance with our security needs and only according to our defence needs, until we achieve our objective of restoring security to you, Israel’s citizens,” he said in a televised speech.
It comes as Israel launches strikes on Gaza and militants fire rockets at Israel after the collapse of a ceasefire. The whereabouts of a missing Israeli soldier, which Israel says Hamas abducted, remain unclear.
Rumours began circulating about the captured soldier this morning, and at around lunchtime the Israeli military spokesman announced that they feared a soldier had indeed been taken.
The Israeli defence forces have named the captured soldier as Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said the Foreign Office is investigating reports the soldier has links to the UK, although it has not been confirmed he has dual Israeli-British nationality.
Channel 4 News understands the solider has links to the UK.
Rabbi Reuven Leigh, based in Cambridge, tweeted that Lt Goldin and his family had spent time in the city. The Jewish Chronicle is also reporting this.
THE IDF spokesman said that around 9.30am Israeli soldiers came under fire in an area around the border of the southern Gaza Strip and “there’s a fear” that during the incident a soldier “has been kidnapped by the terrorists”.
The spokesman added that the family of the soldier had been informed. The military said the situation is still evolving and that the IDF is making “big efforts, operational and intelligence, to locate the soldier”.
The 72-hour ceasefire had already broken down this morning but the reported kidnapping of the Israeli soldier will raise the stakes in the conflict to a completely different level.
Israelis were horrified when another soldier, Gilad Shalit, was previously kidnapped in the Gaza area and held by Hamas militants. He was released in October 2011 after five years and four months – but only in exchange for 1,027 Palestinains prisoners, including many linked to Hamas.
The names of four of the five Israeli soldiers killed by Palestinian mortar fire near the Gaza Strip border earlier have been released by the IDF. The number of Israeli military fatalities now stands at 61.