[Updates below.] 12:48 pm – Turkish media is reporting that John Kerry has reached out to Hamas ally Turkey to request emergency assistance in securing the release of the captured IDF soldier. Earlier reports said that Israel has strongly objected to Turkish involvement in mediation with Hamas.
12:09 pm – The U.S. Senate passes legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that would allocate an additional $225 million for production of Iron Dome missile defense components so that Israel can maintain adequate stockpiles and defend its population from missile attacks launched by the terrorist group Hamas, according to a statement from McConnell’s office.
“The Iron Dome missile defense system has played a critical role in defending Israel’s population from rocket attacks launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip,” McConnell said. “The Iron Dome system will remain essential to Israel’s security until a cease fire is achieved, and it will remain vital afterwards as well, because this defensive system helps blunt the impact of one of Hamas’ preferred tools of terror.”
McConnell added: “By passing this bipartisan measure, we send a message to Hamas that its terrorist tactics and its attempts to terrorize Israel’s populace will not succeed. And we can help Israel defend its civilian population against indiscriminate attacks as it continues its campaign-Operation Protective Edge-to destroy the often-Iranian-supplied weapons stockpiled within Gaza.”
11:17 am – Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center called on US Secretary of State Kerry to return immediately to the Middle East to work to free the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas.
“Mr. Kerry rushed to Jerusalem to pressure Israel to accept yet another ceasefire with terrorist Hamas. Less than 90 minutes later two Israeli soldiers were dead and an Israeli soldier kidnapped by the terrorists. He should now rush back to the region with no other agenda than obtaining the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. He should insist that Qatar and other supporters of Hamas demand the soldier’s immediate release”, said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, founder and dean and associate dean of SWC.
“Israel has the full support of world Jewry to permanently eliminate the threat of Hamas. The Wiesenthal Center further demands that European leaders to arrest all those involved in the the explosion of violent anti-Semitism across the continent by supporters of Hamas”, Rabbis Hier and Cooper concluded.
10:28 – In a statement to reporters, the IDF releases the names of the two soldiers killed today:
The IDF confirms the names of two IDF soldiers who were killed during the attack this morning in the southern Gaza Strip.
Major Benaya Sarel, an infantry officer, 26 years old from Kiryat Arba. He was posthumously promoted from the rank of Captain.
Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni, an infantry soldier, 20 years old from Jerusalem.
The soldiers’ families have been notified.
10:14 am – According to Israel army radio, Hamas is officially denying that is has captured an Israeli soldier. The terror group says it will make an official statement at 7 pm local time, according to reports.
10:13 am – According to Israeli volunteer ambulance service Hatzolah, 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, suspected captured, has a twin brother who is also an IDF soldier.
10:02 am – The scheduled Security Cabinet session is postponed until 18:30.
9:56 am – Apparently in response to the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier, Egypt has cancelled further ceasefire talks, Egypt’s Al Ahram reports:
Egypt decided on Friday to cancel its hosting of ceasefire talks over the ongoing Gaza war, a Palestinian source – who was expected to attend the negotiations – told Ahram Online. …
“The Egyptians contacted Islamic Jihad and said Israel told them that a soldier has been captured,” Ziad Al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad’s deputy leader, told AFP. “The talks have been postponed.”
9:36 am – According to a report in Al Jazeera, many Palestinians have fled the Shifa Hospital compound in Gaza City, following an IDF message saying that Israel was planning to attack the compound. The hospital is widely reported to be a base for Hamas operations.
9:30 am – The Algemeiner’s Arik Elman writes that the kidnap will serve as a death blow to John Kerry’s credibility in Israel’s eyes, as it was his assurances that led the Cabinet to accept the ceasefire in which the soldier was taken. Read more here.
9:16 am – Gershon Baskin, who has been Israel’s top negotiator on Hamas matters and was a key figure in the talks over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, tweets: “Al Qassam just signed the death sentenced of many Hamas leaders. There will not be another Schalit deal.”
9:10 am – CNN’s Wolff Blitzer reports on the kidnap, interviewing Netanyahu’s spokesperson Mark Regev:
9:04 am – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and tells him that despite his joint statement with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to which assurances had been received from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip regarding a ceasefire from 08:00 this morning, the Palestinians had unilaterally and grossly violated the humanitarian ceasefire and attacked Israeli soldiers after 09:00, the Government Press Office said in a statement.
“As a result of this attack, two IDF soldiers were killed and another soldier is suspected to have been abducted; this was after the ceasefire had taken effect,” the GPO said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu told US Secretary of State Kerry that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip will bear the consequences of their actions and that Israel would take all necessary steps against those who call for our destruction and perpetrate terrorism against our citizens.”
9:03 – Israel’s Maj Gen (Res) Giora Eiland says the abduction of the IDF soldier will create further escalation in Gaza, Ynet reports.
9:01 – Israel’s 0404 breaking news website quotes an unnamed minister in the Security Cabinet as saying: “We must move to the next stage: the downfall (‘killing’) of Hamas.”
8:59 am – Israeli Army Radio reports that Goldin was engaged to be married a few months ago.
8:54 am – Britain’s Channel 4 reports that the captured Israeli soldier is a British citizen and is repalted to Israel’s defense minister:
Channel 4 News understands that the soldier is from a family of British Jewish immigrants. It is also understand that he is a cousin – either second or third – of Israeli’s defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon.
8:42 am – Israel’s Security Cabinet will convene at 17:30, according to Ynet.
8:36 am – Israel’s Channel 2 reports an Israeli government official saying: “The response to the abduction will be severe.”
8:35 am – One Israeli volunteer, who is helping farmers at Kibbutz Sufa, close to where the battle in southern Gaza between the IDF and Hamas terrorists is taking place told The Algemeiner that Israeli artillery had been very active through the night and morning.
8:30 am – The Hill writer Rebecca Shabad reports on Twitter: “White House spokesman Josh Earnest just said on @CNN that if it’s true Hamas took advantage of truce it’s ‘a rather barbaric violation.'”
8:28 am – Prayer groups in Israel say the abducted Israeli soldier’s Hebrew name is Hadar ben Chedva Leah.
8:25 am – Israel’s Ynet reports that the two IDF soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near them. In the momentary confusion, the IDF officer was abducted.
8:06 am – The IDF Coordinator of Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai meets with UN envoy Robert Serry to update him on the violation by Hamas of the ceasefire, which was under the aegis of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Israel announces that Hamas has thus ended the humanitarian ceasefire and prevented the residents of Gaza from benefiting from it.
Mordechai says Israel will “take strong action in response to the aggression of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.”
8:02 am – The IDF confirms the name of the officer who is suspected to have been abducted by terrorists earlier this morning as Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23 years old from Kfar Saba. Two other IDF soldiers were killed in the attack.
7:55 am – IDF: “If our suspicions about today’s events are accurate, Hamas took advantage of the latest ceasefire in order to kidnap an IDF soldier”.
7:54 am – The 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire announced yesterday was breached by Hamas in order to launch an attack on IDF forces in which a soldier was kidnapped. The incident took place in southern Gaza and Israeli forces are working extensively to recover the soldier. Heavy IDF bombardment has been reported in the Rafah area.
The IDF’s statement on the abduction is below:
The IDF implemented the government directive, and commenced a 72-hour ceasefire as of today, August 1, at 08:00 IDT.
At approximately 09:30 am, an attack was executed against IDF forces operating to decommission a tunnel.
Initial indication suggests that an IDF soldier has been abducted by terrorists during the incident.
The occurrences are ongoing. The IDF is currently conducting intelligence efforts and extensive searches and in order to locate missing soldier.
The soldier’s family has been notified.
PREAMBLE: 7:52 am – Early on Tuesday July 8th Israel launched Operation Protective Edge aimed at stopping “the constant terror activity that Hamas is aiming at Israeli civilians.” The major Gaza initiative comes in response to a significant increase in rocket attacks from the coastal enclave over the past weeks.
Late on Thursday July 17th the IDF launched an extensive ground offensive in Gaza.
Since the start of the initiative Israel has targeted over 4200 terror sites in Gaza and has seen over 2800 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Gedera. More than 6 million Israelis are under threat of rocket attacks and many are spending the nights in bomb shelters. Over 1300 deaths have been reported in Gaza and 63 Israeli soldiers have been killed and well as three civilians.
Two weeks ago, while Israel accepted an Egyptian proposed ceasefire, Hamas rejected it and fired volleys of rockets into Israel.