Bitter news greeted both Israelis and Palestinians on Tuesday, the 15th day of Operation Protective Edge, as the IDF confirmed that a soldier is missing in action in Gaza and feared dead, while further Israeli strikes on the Strip brought the Palestinian death toll to more than 600.
The soldier was named as 21-year-old Oron Shaul of Poriah, who was in the armored personnel carrier hit by a Hamas rocket in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Six of the seven bodies of the soldiers in the vehicle have been accounted for, but there is still no final word on if Shaul is alive or if Hamas is in fact holding his body.
Israeli media accounts of the battle Sunday night described IDF soldiers facing heavy gunfire to retrieve all of the bodies of their comrades from the scene, an effort that now appears to have been partly in vain.
Shaul’s family said Tuesday that they consider their son alive until conclusive findings are issued.
Two IDF soldiers were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Monday, bringing the total number of IDF fatalities since the ground operation began Thursday night to 27.
The IDF has said that since the start of the ground operation they have found and destroyed 23 infiltration tunnels, killed 183 terrorists, and arrested 20 more.
Also on Tuesday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a house in the town of Yehud near Tel Aviv. The rocket evaded the Iron Dome anti-missile system and was the first successful direct rocket strike on the Tel Aviv area since the operation began. One person was lightly hurt by shrapnel at the scene and several others were treated for shock.
Hours earlier, a 25-year-old Israeli man was seriously wounded near the Rehelim Junction in the West Bank when he was shot by Palestinian gunmen in a passing vehicle. A Palestinian man was also shot dead Monday night by an Israeli man north of Jerusalem; AFP quoted Palestinian security services as saying that the man was throwing rocks at the Israeli man’s car.
The last two days have also seen demonstrations in the Arab sector in Israel and a general strike called by Arab businesses to protest the IDF operation.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon held a joint press conference in Jerusalem to address the ongoing fighting. During his comments, Moon called on both sides to “stop fighting and start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict,” while Netanyahu maintained that Israel is doing what any other country would do in the face of the rocket threat and called on the international community to hold Hamas responsible for their crimes.