Israel declares missing soldier dead as Gaza toll rises

Palestinian boy sits on a sofa outside his family's house, which witnesses said was damaged in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City. REUTERS Photo / Suhaib Salem

The Israeli army on Aug. 3 announced the death of Hadar Goldin, the soldier who went missing in the Gaza Strip two days earlier, with no end to the bloodshed in sight.

A special committee led by the army's chief rabbi said Lieutenant Goldin had been "killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday," the Israeli armed forces said in a statement. Military radio said that no body had been recovered, adding that this made the decision to announce Goldin's death a "very delicate" one. There was no government word on the whereabouts of the soldier's remains.

The Israeli side had previously suggested that 23-year-old Goldin had been captured by Hamas fighters in Gaza, sending chances of a more permanent ceasefire in the bloody offensive nosediving. Such captures are considered by Israel to be casus belli.

Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, had acknowledged its militants staged an ambush early Aug. 1 in which two other Israeli soldiers were killed, but denied holding Goldin.

Both Israel and Hamas vowed Aug. 2 to continue their bloody 26-day confrontation in Gaza, shunning efforts to broker an end to the bloodshed which has claimed more than 1,700 lives.        

With no resolution in sight, a senior Palestinian delegation landed in Cairo for talks Aug. 3 on an Egyptian ceasefire initiative, but Israel said it was not sending a negotiating team.

"Hamas has proven that it breaches any agreement reached right away, as happened five times in previous truces," deputy foreign minister Tzahi HaNegbi told AFP.        

"It is therefore unclear at this stage what benefit Israel might see for participating in an attempt to reach agreements, based on the Egyptian initiative," he added. U.S...

Continue reading on: