Israel on Sunday announced that after reviewing available evidence, it has concluded that Lt. Hadar Goldin, first believed abducted by Hamas, is dead. The announcement came amidst reports that Israel was winding up its war against the Gaza terrorist infrastructure.
Goldin was among a group of soldiers attacked by Hamas terrorists several hours into a 72-hour ceasefire last Friday morning. Two soldiers were killed in that attack, and Goldin was unaccounted for when the dust finally settled.
Hamas initially claimed to have nabbed the Israeli soldier, only to later state that it believed Goldin and his abductors were dead.
Very shortly after the ceasefire violation, Israel unleashed heavy artillery fire on the southern Gaza town of Rafah in which Goldin was taken. There is some speculation that the bombardment was in keeping with the IDF’s “Hannibal Protocol,” which aims to thwart the successful abduction of live Israeli soldiers at any cost.
Hours before the announcement that Goldin was dead, Israeli forces in Gaza began redeploying in what many speculated was a withdrawal marking the end of the ground component of Operation Protective Edge.
In a televised address to the nation on Saturday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that the overall operation would continue, and that certain troops would soon be redeployed having completed their particular mission of destroying terror tunnels in and around the Gaza City suburb of Shejaiya.
“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,” Netanyahu said.
Other political and military officials warned Hamas that the Israeli army would remain deployed and poised to strike against any additional threats.
Hamas vowed that it would not be bound by an Israeli decision to end the war, and mocked Netanyahu for believing he had destroyed even a fraction of its tunnel infrastructure.
The one thing that appears certain is that Israel will not again participate in a ceasefire brokered by either the UN or the Obama Administration.
Netanyahu and his cabinet have determined that Israel alone will determine when and how the Gaza war comes to an end, and will after that negotiate directly with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority regarding the future of the volatile coastal enclave.