An IDF officer was kidnapped and two others killed Friday morning, as Hamas attacked Israeli forces an hour and a half after a U.N./U.S.-brokered 72-hour ceasefire took effect, the Israeli military reported.
The captive soldier was named by the IDF as Sec.-Lt Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old Givati Brigade officer from Kfar Saba. His family has been notified. The White House condemned the breach of the ceasefire by Hamas as “barbaric.” Prime Minister Netanyahu phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and told him that Hamas will bear the consequences for this “gross violation” of the ceasefire.
Goldin was reportedly captured during an incident in southern Gaza when Hamas gunmen emerged from a tunnel shaft and fired at soldiers, while at the same time a suicide bomber detonated himself near the troops. A gun battle ensued and in the melee, Goldin was kidnapped, two IDF soldiers were killed, and others wounded.
This is the first successful attempt out of several by Hamas to kidnap an Israeli soldier during the war, including a previous incident in which they claimed to have taken soldier Oron Shaul, who the IDF later determined was no longer alive. Capturing soldiers is a central strategy of Hamas and other terror groups, and in the past they have forced Israel to release convicted murderers in exchange for captive soldiers or their bodies.
The IDF said the incident occurred at 9:30 a.m., but Hamas says that it took place at 7am, before the ceasefire was to begin.
At the moment IDF soldiers are reportedly fanning out across the area in and around Rafah in southern Gaza in a race against time to find Goldin. They are operating with the suspicion that Hamas may have spirited him away through one of their attack tunnels.
The 72-hour ceasefire announced by the U.N. and the United States on Thursday night is now officially over, as the war enters its 25th day.
After the gun battle that apparently broke the ceasefire, rocket and mortar fire on Israel resumed, and Israeli artillery struck targets in Gaza in response. Palestinian media reported dozens killed in the barrages.
Also Friday, funerals were held for five IDF soldiers killed Thursday night in a mortar attack on the Eshkol region near the Gaza border.
There are now 63 IDF soldiers that have been killed in the war, and over 1,400 Palestinians killed, according to sources in Gaza.