‘British soldier captured’ as Gaza truce collapses

Smoke rises after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip
Smoke rises after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip
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THE Foreign Office is urgently investigating reports that a soldier thought to have been captured by Hamas fighters in Gaza is a British Israeli.

Channel 4 News reported that Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, is from a family of British Jewish immigrants.

“We are aware of these reports and we are urgently looking into them,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

Lt Goldin disappeared as a humanitarian ceasefire brokered by the United States and the United Nations collapsed into more bloodshed and violence just hours after it was supposed to take effect.

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said that the apparent abduction took place when Palestinian gunmen emerged from their network of tunnels, with at least one fighter detonating an explosives vest.

In the ensuing mayhem, Lt Goldin was apparently captured and taken back into Gaza through a tunnel, while another two soldiers were killed.

“We suspect that he has been kidnapped,” Col Lerner said.

An Israeli official said the apparent abduction marked a “very dangerous escalation of violence” and that there would be no three-day ceasefire.

On its official Twitter feed, an IDF spokesman said: “2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 from Kfar Saba, is the soldier suspected to be kidnapped by Hamas earlier today.

“We suspect that a group of Hamas terrorists, including a suicide attacker, kidnapped 2nd. Lt. Goldin at 9:30am and dragged him into a tunnel.

“Hamas terrorists killed two IDF soldiers during the suspected kidnapping of 2nd Lt. Goldin this morning.”

Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the breakdown of the ceasefire - which saw fighting break out again less than two hours after a supposed three-day truce started at 8am local time (6am BST).

Palestinian officials said that Israeli shelling around the town of Rafah had killed at least 35 Palestinians and injured about 200 while the Israelis said that militants had fired eight rockets and mortars across the border into Israel.

Col Lerner said he was unable to confirm whether the captured soldier was British-Israeli but said it was a “possibility”.

He told Sky News: “There are Brits, dual nationals, that are here.”

Col Lerner said the attack happened in southern Gaza where Israeli forces had been searching for tunnels which posed a “huge threat”.

He said: “In the early hours of today during the humanitarian ceasefire that the Israeli defence forces were implementing, at 9.30am, some terrorists came out of the ground.

“One of them had a suicide belt on and blew himself up. Others came out and carried out some shooting and gun fight.

“In the aftermath of that, we had two soldiers killed in this attack and indeed Lt Goldin was supposedly abducted from the site.

“Hamas were using this humanitarian recess as a cover to carry out this attack while we were holding our fire.”

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, 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 hours of the UN, US and Egypt-backed ‘72-hour ceasefire’ taking effect.

“We urge the Government to show its support for the Goldin family and to speak out against this deplorable act by the terrorist group Hamas and do everything in its power to secure his release.”