Israel has vowed to secure the safe return of one of its soldiers, who is missing and presumed to have been kidnapped following a raid in the Gaza Strip. Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships have pushed into the disputed territory to take part in the search. Corporal Gilad Shalit could not be found following the attack, in which two other israeli soldiers died.
Its claimed at least two palestinian militants were also killed during the raid. An israeli military spokesman said the 19 year old was part of a tank crew targeted by militants from a tunnel dug under the Gaza border fence near the Kerem Shalom crossing.
A joint group of militants, including the military wing of Hamas has claimed responsibility for the raid. Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer has urged them to be merciful: “Spare this man’s life if he is still alive. Treat him well and don’t kill him because we don’t want to give them a reason to hit our people in Gaza along with the Palestinian National Project.”
Israel has made it plain it holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the missing soldier’s welfare. Government Minister Amir Peretz: “We intend to do everything to ensure this soldier is returned to his family. I want to notify everyone involved that our view is that anyone who harms him will have his blood on their hands, and on those of their leaders.”
A spokesman for Hamas’ military wing would neither confirm nor deny that the soldier was being held.