7:19 p.m.: Hadar Goldin, the missing Israeli soldier thought to be kidnapped by Hamas on Friday, has reportedly been declared dead by the Israeli military.
BREAKING: Soldier believed captured by Hamas militants declared dead by Israel's military http://t.co/dyYmrObBWO— The Associated Press (@AP) August 2, 2014
From the report:
The military announced early Sunday morning that 23-year-old Hadar Goldin of the Givati infantry brigade had been killed in battle on Friday.
Citing that its operation to demolish Hamas tunnels was nearing its end, Israel started to withdraw some of its ground forces from Gaza. As we noted earlier, this development comes after the Israeli cabinet decided it would no longer seek a ceasefire with Hamas and called off negotiations to be held in Cairo.
Israel alleges that Hamas breached the U.S. and UN-brokered 72-hour truce yesterday during a tunnel attack in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and another was said to be kidnapped. In a strange turn of events, Hamas denied having kidnapped the missing soldier.
Nevertheless, the damage had been done and Israel, which had been shoehorned into a ceasefire following a week of international outrage against its campaign in Gaza, found President Obama sympathizing with its impulse to go it alone. Here's what he said at a press conference on Friday:
It’s going to be very hard to put a ceasefire back together again if Israelis and the international community can’t feel confident that Hamas can follow through.”
Speaking on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu let it be known that the drawing down of ground troops doesn't mean the campaign against Hamas will stop:
From the beginning, we promised to return the quiet to Israel’s citizens and we will continue to act until that aim is achieved. We will take as much time as necessary, and will exert as much force as needed.”
He added: “We are keeping all options for action open.”
What Netanyahu isn't saying is that Israel's unilateral decision freezes out the diplomatic forces in place that had wanted Israel to submit to a ceasefire where it might be forced to dole out some concessions.
Writing in Haaretz, Chemi Shalev said this of the decision:
The ramifications of the decision, however, spread farther and wider: it disqualifies Hamas as a partner to the process and deprives it of any potential gains from its bloody Gaza campaign; it ejects Turkey and Qatar from the circle of countries with influence, as Israel had sought from the outset; and it relegates the United States, for the time being at least, to the sidelines.
Hamas vowed to fight on with the same "as needed" flourish employed by Netanyahu. Speaking with Palestinian media, here's what Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said when asked about a unilateral withdrawal:
Abu Zuhri, however, said in a statement that an Israeli unilateral retreat would not "commit" the group to anything, highlighting that the situation in the "field" would determine how Hamas responds to such a move.
I'm sure this will resolve itself completely on its own.