A soldier who was in an armored personnel carrier that was hit by Hamas is unaccounted for, the army said on Tuesday.
The attack in Gaza on Sunday killed six soldiers, and their bodies have been identified, the army said. But a seventh Golani Brigade fighter, Sgt. Oron Shaul, 20, was also on board the APC, and is classified as missing.
The fate of Shaul, a resident of Poriya near Tiberias, remains unknown, and the IDF is working intensively to find answers.
A spokeswoman for Oron’s family, Racheli Gazit, said on Tuesday that the family will believe Shaul is alive until they are definitively told otherwise.
“As long as the identification process hasn’t finished, and there are no unequivocal findings, he is still alive in the family’s eyes,” she said.
The IDF announcement came after Hamas claimed to have kidnapped an Israeli soldier on Sunday, not saying whether he was alive or dead.
Abu Ubaida, the masked and camouflaged spokesman of Hamas’s armed wing, said “Shaul Aron” was seized during heavy fighting on the Gaza border. He displayed a photo ID and the army serial number, but showed no image of Shaul in Hamas’s hands.
In the attack, which took place at 1:05 a.m. on Sunday, an APC carrying soldiers from Golani’s 13th Battalion drove over an explosive device that detonated.
Residents of the Gaza Strip lit fireworks and chanted “God is great!” into the early morning darkness on Monday after Hamas’s claims of capturing the soldier.
Israel’s envoy to the United Nations denied the claim on Monday.
Reuters quoted a Gazan vegetable seller, named as Musa Abu Attiyeh, as saying, “Hundreds of martyrs have fallen and we’re under attack 24-hours a day... but today is like a holiday and we feel joy that a soldier is in our hands and we hope more will follow.”
All together, 13 Golani soldiers were killed in fighting on Sunday in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaia, a Hamas stronghold from where many longrange rockets have been fired at Israeli cities.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.