Israel Is Missing a 21-Year-Old Soldier After All; 600 Palestinians Dead

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Israeli soldiers sitting on a tank hold their position on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 22 , 2014, as smoke billows from the coastal Palestinian enclave following an Israeli army ground operation to destroy tunnels reportedly used by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip to enter Israel. The UN chief and Washington's top diplomat are holding a flurry of meetings in Cairo to push for an end to two weeks of violence in Gaza that has killed sp far 585 Palestinians. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ        (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

On the fifth day of a ground war in Gaza, Israel has admitted to losing one of its own. Following a battle on Sunday, Hamas claimed it had captured a 21-year-old Israeli soldier, while Israel’s U.N. ambassador said “those rumors are untrue.” Today, the IDF said one man was indeed unaccounted for: “At this time, the remains of six of the seven soldiers involved in the incident have been identified,” Israel’s military explained in a statement. “Given the complexity of the incident, the identification efforts concerning the seventh soldier are ongoing. The IDF is in constant contact with the families of all seven soldiers.” Sergeant Oron Shaul may already be dead.

Israeli infantry soldiers patrol near the border with the Gaza Strip on July 22, 2014, as they search for tunnels reportedly used by Palestinian militants from the coastal enclave to enter Israel. UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry are in Cairo in a bid to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas after two weeks of fighting which has left over 570 Palestinians dead. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA        (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

“That name corresponded with a name Hamas had provided in Arabic when it claimed the kidnapping of the soldier. Hamas also provided an Israeli identity number for the soldier,” the New York Times reports. However, he is “presumed dead,” according to Israel Hayom. “IDF officials think the most Hamas might have in its possession are identifying items taken from the scene of the attack.”

Still, the uncertainty could have consequences for the peace process as John Kerry continues negotiations in Cairo over a potential cease-fire. At least 27 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed in the invasion so far.

The young daughter (L) of Hasan Baker, 60-years-old, is comforted during his funeral of her Gaza City, on July 22, 2014. A series of Israeli air strikes early killed seven people in Gaza, including five members of the same family, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. The deaths hike the total Palestinian toll to 583 since the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in a bid to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED        (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The Palestinian side is suffering its own losses, most of them civilians (75 percent, according to the United Nations). More from the Times:

The Palestinian health ministry said that at least four women were killed, including a pregnant woman, 25, whose home outside Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza was hit by an artillery shell. Another woman, 25, was killed in similar circumstances east of Rafah in southern Gaza and two more women, aged 70 and 50, died from Israeli fire, also in southern Gaza.

The ground operation has killed at least 130 Palestinians, bringing the total this month above 600. More than 3,700 people have been injured.