Less than two hours into an agreed upon ceasefire by Hamas militants and Israel which began early Friday morning, The Jerusalem Post reported Israeli soldier Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, was kidnapped by the militant group when they emerged from a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip detonating a suicide vest killing two Israeli soldiers and then capturing Goldin.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on CNN Friday the US is condemning the Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers calling upon Hamas to release the abducted Israeli soldier.
"That would be a rather barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement," Earnest said on CNN. “And we would encourage those who have influence with Hamas to get them back on to the terms of the cease-fire and to get them to abide by the agreements that they struck just yesterday.”
Secretary of State John Kerry released an official statement on Friday also condemning the violence during the agreed upon ceasefire saying today is an “outrageous violation of the ceasefire negotiated over the past several days, and of the assurances given to the United States and the United Nations." Kerry’s statement asked Hamas “to immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier," and on those with influence over Hamas to "reinforce this message."
White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said on MSNBC the White House “strongly condemns” the violence and capture of Goldin. "This appears to be an absolutely outrageous action by Hamas, using the cover of a cease-fire to conduct a surprise attack through a tunnel, killing Israeli soldiers and perhaps taking one hostage," Blinken said.
The New York Times reported that Hamas released a statement saying Israel’s announcement about the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was an effort “to cover up the barbaric massacres, especially in Rafah.” The statement by Hamas went on to say “Due to this Zionist invasion, our holy fighters clashed with the forces and killed a large number at 7 a.m. We emphasize that any Zionist forces violating our liberated land would be subject to our holy fighters’ fire and a legitimate target.”
In retaliation after the incident, the Gaza health ministry reported that at least 53 Palestinians were killed by Israeli shelling and injured over 200.
During a telephone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kerry, The Jerusalem Post reported that Netanyahu said Hamas had “unilaterally and grossly” violated the ceasefire. “Israel will take all necessary steps against those who call for our destruction and perpetrate terrorism against our citizens," the Israeli prime minister said.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu’s office said Hamas had “yet again thrown away a chance for a humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza, by deliberately violating this ceasefire.”
Hamas’ deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk told Al-Arabiya news channel from Cairo that Hamas did not carry out any military operations after 8 a.m. when the ceasefire began on Friday morning.