UPDATE 11:10 p.m.: Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, denied the Hamas claim of the captured soldier.
“There’s no kidnapped Israeli soldier, and those rumors are untrue,” Prosor said, CNN reported.
Original story below
Hamas claimed it captured an Israeli soldier Sunday, resulting in gunfire and cheers erupting in Gaza in apparent celebration, CNN reporters on the ground said.
CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul said during an on-air segment that when the announcement of the capture went out on Gaza TV, “all around we heard from apartment buildings loud cheers, clapping going up from ordinary citizens” as well as gunfire in the distance.
Al Jazeera echoed the report:
The solider was taken during an early morning operation, CNN reported, citing Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, al-Qassam Brigades.
The spokesman provided the alleged name and ID of the soldier, saying, “He is a prisoner, and if Zionists lie about the dead and wounded, then the fate of this soldier is their responsibility.”
There was no immediate comment from Israel, CNN noted, adding that Israel Defense Forces said it was aware of the report and looking into it.
“It’s a game changer, immediately, because it’s going to change what the Israelis are doing on the ground in that sector,” CNN military analyst Lt. Col. Rick Francona said. “They’re going to be looking for him.”
“Overall, the Israeli strategy is not going to change. They’re committed to this mission,” Francona noted, but added that at some point the Israelis are “going to have to make some sort of accommodation to get this guy back.”
In 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured. He was released some five years later in exchange for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.