Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond last night played down reports emanating from Israel that a soldier reportedly abducted by Hamas in Gaza had dual British-Israeli citizenship, as he warned that the incident would have serious consequences.
A humanitarian ceasefire dramatically collapsed in the region yesterday, with at least 62 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers said to have been killed in the fierce fighting that quickly shattered the US-brokered truce which was supposed to last for 72 hours.
Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, who is believed to have lived in Britain for a time, is thought to have been seized by Hamas fighters less than two hours after the start of the ceasefire.
Mr Hammond said the British Government had no information to support reports that the solider had connections with Britain. He said: “We have heard them, we are looking into it but we have no information to suggest that he is a British citizen.”
He added: “If the reports that Hamas broke the ceasefire are correct then that is very serious indeed, as is the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier which will make it all the more difficult to re-establish the ceasefire to allow a humanitarian pause in Gaza.”
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has called for the soldier’s “unconditional and immediate release”.
Mr Obama said it was “heartbreaking” to see what was happening in Gaza and admitted it would be difficult to put back together the truce between Hamas and Israel.
But the violence will not deter Huddersfield’s Paveen Yaqub, 43, from returning to Gaza, she said. The humanitarian survived a brutal raid by Israeli commandos in May 2010 when the flotilla she was in reached the war zone. Ten of her colleagues were killed and she was held in Israel for five days before being released and banned from re-entering the country.
Ms Yaqub has vowed to get on board another relief flotilla bound for the war-torn region.
She said: “I know it’s dangerous but hopefully the UN and the EU will help with a safe passage and not allow it to happen again.
“I have to help.”