JERUSALEM (AA) – The Israeli army admitted on Tuesday that one of its soldiers is missing in the Gaza Strip, two days after the armed wing of Hamas had announced capturing an Israeli soldier during clashes in the embattled coastal enclave.
“We have identified 6 of their bodies,” the Israeli army said on its official twitter account. “Efforts to identify the 7th soldier are ongoing.”
The six soldiers were killed during ground battles with Palestinian fighters Sunday in Gaza City’s eastern neighborhood of Shujaya.
The seventh, identified as Sergeant Oron Shaul, a 21-year-old combat soldier of the elite Golani Brigade, has been classified as “missing.”
Tuesday’s statement by the Israeli army came nearly 48 hours after Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades had announced the capture of an Israeli soldier identified as Shaul Aaron.
In a televised statement, the Brigades’ spokesman Abu Ubaidah gave the military card number of the soldier.
In 2006, the Brigades captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and held him until 2011 when he was swapped for 1027 Palestinian prisoners.
Since July 7, Israel has been pounding the blockaded Gaza Strip with air and naval bombardments with the stated aim of halting rocket attacks from it.
On Thursday night, Israel stepped up its offensive to include ground operations, sending thousands of troops into the embattled Palestinian territory.
The Israeli onslaught has so far killed 583 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounded 4630 others.
The military operation, dubbed operation “Protective Edge,” is Israel’s third major offensive against Gaza in the last six years.
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