IDF: Israeli soldier probably kidnapped

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — An Israeli soldier is feared captured near Rafah, Israeli media reported, and a cease-fire collapsed in its first hours.

The army spokesman said the soldier there is a suspicion that the soldier was captured during exchanges of fire between Hamas militants and Israeli troops on Friday in the southern Gaza Strip. His family has been informed, the spokesman’s office said.

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Multiple Israeli media also reported that Israeli officials have told U.N. officials that Israel considers the cease-fire ruptured.

The suspected abduction occurred when gunmen opened fire on IDF troops in the southern Gaza Strip city. The army is conducting extensive searches and efforts to resolve the situation, army sources told the Ynet news site.

Israel Radio quoted Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas official based in Cairo, as saying that the group was holding a an officer and that he was captured before the cease-fire’s 8 a.m. start.

Israeli army officials said the fire-fight in Rafah and the capture took place 1.5 hours after the start of what was supposed to be a 72-hour U.S.-U.N.-brokered cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

U.N. special envoy Robert Serry said Friday in a statement that he was informed by Israel of “a serious incident this morning” during the truce involving “a tunnel behind IDF lines in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip,” in which two soldiers and multiple Palestinians were killed.

“The United Nations is not in a position to independently confirm these reports,” Serry says. If confirmed, however, “this would constitute a serious violation of the humanitarian ceasefire in place since 8 a.m. this morning by Gazan militant factions, which should be condemned in the strongest terms.”

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