Israeli Embassy: No confirmation that kidnapped soldier was British

Israeli Embassy: No confirmation that kidnapped soldier was British

1st Lt  Hadar GoldinThe British Foreign Office and London’s Israeli Embassy have said there is no information so far to suggest the soldier kidnapped by Hamas this morning is a British national.

Widespread reports suggested that 23-year-old Hadar Goldin is a dual national but this has not been confirmed by authorities in Britain or Israel. It is however known that he spent him in Cambridge with his family while his father was on sabbatical at Cambridge University. 

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:  “We have no information to support those reports.  We have heard that and we are obviously looking into it, but we have no information to suggest that he is a British citizen.”

His statement came after Anglo-Jewry’s two main leadership organisations appeared to back up the original reports of dual-nationality. It said: “The Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, on behalf of the UK Jewish community, would like to express our dismay and revulsion at the kidnapping of British born, Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin.

“The kidnapping took place as part of a violent ambush by Hamas, within.

Some 200 Palestinians were also injured in the “random”Israeli shelling of the Rafah area in southern Gaza.

The death toll could rise as rescue workers continue to search for people buried under the rubble of several apartment blocks hit by shells. It is unclear whether the victims are civilians or militants.”

The Israeli military, meanwhile, says one of its soldiers is “feared” abducted, without providing further details, and that Gaza militants have fired eight rockets and mortars at Israelsince the ceasefire began, one of which was intercepted.

“Once again, Hamas and the terror organisations in Gaza have blatantly broken the ceasefire to which they committed, this time before the American Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement shortly after the fighting broke out.

Israel launched an aerial campaign against Gaza aimed at halting Palestinian rocket fire on July 8 and later sent in ground troops to target launch sites and tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks inside Israel. The war has killed nearly 1,500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and more than 60Israelis, nearly all soldiers.

At least four short humanitarian ceasefires have been announced since the conflict began, but each has been broken within a few hours by renewed fighting. Friday’s temporary ceasefire was the longest to be announced so far.

Under the ceasefire, Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza were to continue to destroy tunnels along the heavily guarded frontier, but only those that are behind Israeli defensive lines and lead into Israel.

Netanyahu vowed to destroy Hamas’ tunnel network “with or without a ceasefire”.

Soon after the ceasefire went into force, Gaza’s residents took advantage of the truce to return to their homes, many of which had been destroyed in the fighting. Some arrived on tuk-tuks – three-wheeled taxis – by car or on foot to retrieve their belongings.

Egypt have issued a statement calling on the Western-backed Palestinian Authority andIsrael to send negotiation teams to Cairo to discuss “all issues of concern to each party within the framework of the Egyptian initiative”.

Egypt had put forth a ceasefire proposal a week after fighting began last month. Israelaccepted the proposal, but Hamas, which deeply mistrusts Egypt following last summer’s overthrow of an Islamist government in Cairo, rejected it.

Hamas has demanded the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian border blockade imposed on Gaza in 2007 when the Islamic militant group seized power, as well as the release of Palestinians rounded up in the West Bank in June following the killing of three Israeli teenagers.

In recent weeks Turkey and Qatar, which have warmer ties to Hamas but are at odds with Egypt, have tried to help broker a ceasefire agreement, with no results.

It is not clear whether other nations will attend the Egypt talks, and aides to Kerry said Egypt will ultimately decide who will participate. A Hamas official in Qatar said Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials would be participating. Israel will not meet directly with members of either group because it considers them terrorist organisations.

Hours before the ceasefire was to take effect, 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes, including 10 from the same family. The family members were killed in an airstrike on their home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

Israel’s military said five of its soldiers were killed along the Gaza border on Thursday evening by a mortar round.

At least 1,496 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since hostilities began July 8, according to Palestinian officials. Israel says 61 of its soldiers and three civilians in Israelhave been killed.

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