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Missing Soldier Is Declared Dead
Hadar Goldin, the Israeli soldier who was thought to have been captured by Hamas fighters last Friday, has been declared dead.
The Israel Defense Forces announced early Sunday morning that it had determined that Second Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in action. The determination was based on an analysis of what took place on the battlefield, a medical review, Jewish legal considerations and other considerations, the IDF said.
“A special IDF committee has determined that Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in combat in Gaza on Friday,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. “We join Lt. Goldin’s family in mourning their loss and will continue to support them during the grieving period.”
Before the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would keep “all options on the table” as Operation Protective Edge continues in Gaza.
Speaking Saturday night during a news conference at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, he said the operation would continue “no matter how much time it takes and how much strength it requires.”
“Every option is on the table to ensure long-term quiet to the residents of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “I won’t say when we’ll finish and where we’ll go. We have no obligation outside of our security concerns.”
The developments came at the end of a tumultuous weekend in Gaza. Shortly after Israel and Hamas agreed to a three-day cease-fire beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, Hamas killed two soldiers in a suicide bombing and was thought to have captured Goldin. Fighting continued in Gaza through Friday and Saturday, though the IDF began withdrawing an unspecified number of troops on Saturday.
Following Netanyahu’s statement, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the IDF is nearing the end of its mission to destroy Hamas’ network of tunnels in Gaza. “I’m ready to get to the end of the operation militarily or, if I can, diplomatically,” he said. “I prefer to diplomatically, but if that is impossible, we’ll use all of the tools available.”
Netanyahu also offered enthusiastic praise for the United States' support of Israel throughout the conflict. He said “the U.S. has been terrific,” and offered strong words of praise for President Barack Obama and for an “untiring effort” from Secretary of State John Kerry. He also thanked the United States for its financial support of the Iron Dome missile defense system.
“President Obama has made constant statements on Israel’s right to defend itself,” said Netanyahu. “I appreciate it deeply.”
Netanyahu also blamed Qatar for funding Hamas and for harboring Khaled Meshal, Hamas’ political head. But Netanyahu also noted an emerging “constellation” of Middle Eastern states that oppose Hamas and “that allows us to create a new reality.”