Kerry cals for ‘immediate, unconditional’ release of soldier

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Hamas must “immediately and unconditionally” release the soldier it apparently captured during a cease-fire.

“Hamas, which has security control over the Gaza Strip, must immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier, and I call on those with influence over Hamas to reinforce this message,” Kerry said in a statement Friday posted after Hadar Goldin, a second lieutenant, went missing during a firefight in southern Gaza.

Israel’s army said Hamas ambushed Israeli troops 90 minutes into a 72 hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel conflict, launched July 8.

Hamas has not acknowledged taking Goldin.

Kerry’s call to “those with influence over Hamas” was reported in Israeli media as an appeal to Qatar and Turkey to press Hamas to release the soldier; both countries had acted as interlocutors on behalf of Hamas during the cease-fire talks, which were led by Kerry.