A Hamas attack on Israeli troops left two soldiers dead and a third feared kidnappedjust hours into a planned 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza.
Israeli cabinet officials are meeting to discuss a response, but already Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Hamas will pay significant consequences. “Once again, Hamas and the terror organizations in Gaza have violated the ceasefire to which they committed themselves to the UN Secretary-General and US Secretary of State Kerry,” a statement from the Israeli government said.
The attackers reportedly emerged from a tunnel that the Israeli forces planned to destroy – which the ceasefire terms allowed – when one blew himself up near the Israeli soldiers. The missing soldier is 23-year-old Second Lt. Hadar Goldin from Kfar Saba.
Heavy fighting on both sides followed shortly after.
“The cease-fire is over,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters, saying “extensive operations on the ground” were underway to try to find Goldin. Reports say he is a cousin of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Hamas reportedly accepted this ceasefire, which in effect was the same proposal it rejected two weeks ago when casualty counts on both sides were much lower. As those casualties increased, international pressure focused on Israel to end the fighting. Accepting this ceasefire marks at least the sixth time Israel agreed to such requests. Hamas either rejected or violated each of those.
Israel stopped bombing targets Friday morning, adhering to the humanitarian ceasefire. Talks in Egypt would have sought ways to extend the 72-hour lull in fighting, again, with humanitarian aims for the people of Gaza. The hunt for Goldin puts those civilians back in harm’s way. Those most concerned about the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza need to consider why the fighting continues to rage on as they mourn each new victim.
Hamas “will yet pay a heavy price,” Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wrote on Facebook. “If it was not yet clear enough to everyone, now the world knows who is responsible for the destruction and blood” in Gaza.
This post originally ran at the Investigative Project on Terrorism.