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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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Missing Israeli soldier presumed killed; another soldier dies

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Israeli President Shimon Peres comforts the mother of Tzafrir Bar Or, one of the soldiers killed in action. [Mark Neyman/GPO photo]

An Israeli soldier is missing, the Israeli army confirmed, though it is widely presumed he is dead, and  the IDF announced that another soldier was killed in action.

On Tuesday, more than a day after Hamas said it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)  confirmed the soldier was missing but indicated it was highly unlikely that anyone could have survived the explosion on the armored vehicle in which he was riding.

The missing soldier – identified by the IDF as Oron Shaul, 21, of Poriya Illit in northern Israel – is believed to have been one of seven troops from the Golani Brigade killed early Sunday morning in the Hamas bombing of their vehicle.

The IDF also announced that Sgt. Avitar Moshe Torjamin, 20,of Beit Shean, was killed Tuesday morning in what the IDF said in a statement was a “fire exchange” in the southern Gaza Strip.

At least 27 soldiers have been killed since the start of the Gaza operation; one soldier remains missing, though presumed dead.

A spokeswoman for Shaul’s family said later in the day that until the IDF can prove the soldier is dead, they will continue to believe he is alive.

“As long as the identification process hasn’t finished, and there are no unequivocal findings, he is still alive in the family’s eyes,” Racheli Gazit told reporters.

On Monday night, the families of the seven soldiers were briefed by the IDF on the attack and the identification of the bodies.

“The efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined,” the IDF said in a statement.

Hamas claimed late Sunday night that it was holding an Israeli soldier, which it named as Shaul Aron. A Hamas spokesman did not say whether the soldier was alive or dead, but displayed his photo ID and provided his army serial number.

Following the announcement of the alleged capture by Hamas’ military wing late Sunday night, fireworks and celebrations were held in cities including Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem.

Meanwhile, new immigrants from North America arrived in Israel equipped with instructions about what to do if there were a siren warning of an incoming rocket.

The 228 olim, including 100 children making aliyah with their parents, landed Tuesday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport on a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight. Twenty-nine families and 54 singles were on board.

Twenty-one of the new immigrants will be joining the Israeli army as lone soldiers, according to Nefesh B’Nefesh.

The new olim, who left from Kennedy Airport in New York, received a special booklet from the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption on security measures, such as what to do when a Code Red siren sounds warning of incoming rockets. The immigrants also were given an English-language manual from the Home Front Command on how to talk to children about the situation.

The flight was in collaboration with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.

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