JERUSALEM — The Is­raeli mil­i­tary said ear­ly Sun­day morn­ing that an of­fi­cer thought to have been cap­tured by Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants dur­ing a dead­ly clash Fri­day morn­ing, which shat­tered a planned 72-hour cease-fire, was now con­sid­ered to have been killed in bat­tle.

The an­nounce­ment came just hours af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu vowed to con­tin­ue Is­rael’s mil­i­tary cam­paign in the Gaza Strip as long as nec­es­sary to stop Hamas at­tacks, while sug­gest­ing a de-es­ca­la­tion of the ground war in Gaza may be near.

The case of the miss­ing sol­dier, Sec­ond Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, be­came the lat­est flash point in the con­flict, prompt­ing a fierce Is­raeli bom­bard­ment and calls from lead­ers around the world for his re­lease. His dis­ap­pear­ance came af­ter Hamas mil­i­tants am­bushed Is­raeli sol­diers near the south­ern bor­der town of Rafah, at the start of what was sup­posed to have been a pause in the fight­ing.

As the death toll mount­ed Sat­ur­day to more than 1,650 Pales­tini­ans, many of them women and chil­dren, and im­ages of homes, mosques and schools smashed in­to rub­ble filled the me­dia, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was un­der con­sid­er­able in­ter­na­tion­al pres­sure, from Wash­ing­ton and Eu­rope, to end the con­flict. The Unit­ed Na­tions warned of “an un­fold­ing health dis­as­ter” in Gaza with lit­tle elec­tric­i­ty, bad wa­ter and a lack of med­ical sup­plies.

At the same time, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure at home to de­liv­er on his promis­es to crush.

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Hamas, par­tic­u­lar­ly with 64 Is­raeli sol­diers dead. He in­sist­ed Sat­ur­day that Hamas had been se­vere­ly hurt and he warned that it would pay “an in­tol­er­a­ble price” if it con­tin­ues to fire rock­ets at Is­rael.

His for­mer deputy de­fense min­is­ter, Dan­ny Danon,who was fired by Mr. Ne­tanyahu for pub­lic crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment, said in a state­ment Sat­ur­day that “the cab­i­net is grave­ly mis­tak­en in its de­ci­sion to with­draw forces from Gaza. This is a step in the wrong di­rec­tion.”

But Mr. Ne­tanyahu, in a na­tion­al­ly tele­vised speech with his de­fense min­is­ter be­side him, in­sist­ed that Is­rael was achiev­ing its goals and could al­ter its tac­tics. “We promised to re­turn the qui­et to Is­rael’s cit­i­zens, and we will con­tin­ue to act un­til that aim is achieved,” Mr. Ne­tanyahu said. “We will take as much time as nec­es­sary, and will ex­ert as much force as need­ed.”

Is­rael was not end­ing its op­er­a­tion uni­lat­er­al­ly, he said, adding: “We will de­ploy in the places most con­ve­nient to us to re­duce fric­tion on I.D.F. sol­diers, be­cause we care about them.” There were Is­raeli tele­vi­sion re­ports on Sat­ur­day that some Is­rael De­fense Forces troops were pulling out of Gaza, and Is­rael in­formed Pales­tini­ans in Beit Lahiya and al-Ata­tra, in north­ern Gaza, that it was now safe to re­turn to their homes. Is­raeli of­fi­cials have said that the army’s ef­fort to de­stroy the elab­o­rate tun­nel sys­tem from Gaza in­to Is­rael would be fin­ished in the next day or two.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials sug­gest­ed that the army would leave built-up ar­eas and some forces would re­de­ploy in­side Gaza, clos­er to the bor­der fence, to re­spond to at­tacks if nec­es­sary. Oth­er units will re­turn to south­ern Is­rael.

Hamas, for its part, vowed to con­tin­ue fight­ing. Sa­mi Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, told the news agency Maan that “a uni­lat­er­al with­draw­al or re­de­ploy­ment by Is­rael in the Strip will be an­swered by a fit­ting re­sponse by the Hamas mil­i­tary arm.” He said that “the forces of oc­cu­pa­tion must choose be­tween re­main­ing in Gaza and pay­ing the price or re­treat­ing and pay­ing the price or hold­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions and pay­ing the price.”

Mr. Ne­tanyahu thanked the Unit­ed States, which along with the Unit­ed Na­tions ap­peared to sup­port Is­rael’s po­si­tion that Hamas’s ac­tions vi­o­lat­ed the cease-fire, and he asked for in­ter­na­tion­al help to re­build Gaza on the con­di­tion of its “de­mil­i­ta­riza­tion.” Is­rael ap­pears to be hop­ing that with the sup­port of Egypt and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas of the Pales­tin­ian Au­thor­i­ty can con­trol Gaza through a uni­ty gov­ern­ment agreed up­on with Hamas and take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for se­cu­ri­ty there and for the Rafah cross­ing to Egypt.

Mr. Ne­tanyahu re­peat­ed that his goal was to re­store “peace and calm” to Is­rael and that he in­tend­ed to do so by what­ev­er means — diplo­mat­i­cal­ly or mil­i­tar­i­ly. “All op­tions are on the ta­ble,” he said. But he in­di­cat­ed that Is­rael would not get caught up again in talk about a ne­go­ti­at­ed cease-fire with Hamas and Is­lam­ic Ji­had and would act in its own in­ter­ests, while seek­ing sup­port from Mr. Ab­bas and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty for what Mr. Ne­tanyahu de­scribed vague­ly as “a new re­al­i­ty” in Gaza.

Is­rael has de­cid­ed not to send a del­e­ga­tion to cease-fire talks host­ed by Egypt, at least not now, Is­raeli of­fi­cials said. In Wash­ing­ton, Jen Psa­ki, a State De­part­ment

spokes­woman, said: “In the end, this par­tic­u­lar­ly bloody chap­ter will ul­ti­mate­ly re­quire a durable so­lu­tion so that all the fun­da­men­tal is­sues, in­clud­ing Is­rael’s se­cu­ri­ty, can be ne­go­ti­at­ed, and we will keep work­ing with Is­rael and oth­er part­ners to achieve that goal.” She said that Is­rael had a right to de­fend it­self.

Hours be­fore the mil­i­tary an­nounced that Lieu­tenant Goldin had died, his par­ents called on the prime min­is­ter and the army not to leave their son be­hind.

The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death re­mained cloudy. A mil­i­tary spokes­woman de­clined to say whether Lieu­tenant Goldin had been killed along with two com­rades by a sui­cide bomb one of the mil­i­tants ex­plod­ed, or lat­er by Is­rael’s as­sault on the area to hunt for him; she al­so re­fused to an­swer whether his re­mains had been re­cov­ered.

As word spread on Sat­ur­day that Is­rael’s lead­ers were con­sid­er­ing pulling all ground forces from Gaza, Lieu­tenant Goldin’s fam­i­ly spoke to jour­nal­ists out­side their home in Kfar Sa­ba, a Tel Aviv sub­urb. “I de­mand that the state of Is­rael not leave Gaza un­til they bring my son back home,” said his moth­er, Hed­va. His sis­ter, Ayelet, 35, added, “If a cap­tive sol­dier is left in Gaza, it’s a de­feat.”

The fam­i­ly said they were con­vinced that Lieu­tenant Goldin was alive.

“I hope and be­lieve in hu­man kind­ness, that the world will do any­thing to bring Hadar with a smile back home,” his broth­er Che­mi, 32, said in an in­ter­view.

When his moth­er called him on Fri­day, Che­mi said, he

knew some­thing ter­ri­ble had hap­pened, but did not know whether it in­volved Lieu­tenant Goldin or his twin, Tzur, who was al­so fight­ing in Gaza. Che­mi said the twins, who at­tend­ed kinder­garten in Cam­bridge, Eng­land, did not talk much about their mil­i­tary ser­vice. In Gaza, the armed wing of Hamas said ear­ly Sat­ur­day that it was not hold­ing the Is­raeli of­fi­cer. The Qas­sam Brigades sug­gest­ed in a state­ment that the of­fi­cer might have been killed along with his cap­tors in an Is­raeli as­sault that fol­lowed a sui­cide-bomb at­tack by Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants, who emerged from a tun­nel that Is­raeli troops were try­ing to de­stroy near Rafah.

“Un­til now, we have no idea about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Is­raeli sol­dier,” the state­ment said. Say­ing the lead­er­ship had lost touch with its “troops de­ployed in the am­bush,” the state­ment added, “Our ac­count is that the sol­dier could have been kid­napped and killed to­geth­er with our fight­ers.”

The Is­raeli Army con­tin­ued to pound Rafah in its search for Lieu­tenant Goldin, strik­ing more than 200 tar­gets across Gaza in the 24 hours since the Rafah con­fronta­tion, in­clud­ing what it de­scribed as a “re­search and de­vel­op­ment” lab for weapons man­u­fac­tur­ing at the Is­lam­ic Uni­ver­si­ty, run by Hamas. Five mosques that the mil­i­tary said con­cealed weapons or Hamas out­posts were al­so hit, the Is­raelis said.

Around noon, a bar­rage of rock­ets flew in­to south­ern Is­rael.

The Gaza-based health min­istry, which had re­port­ed 70 peo­ple killed in Rafah on Fri­day, said the ca­su­al­ties had con­tin­ued there overnight, in­clud­ing sev­en mem­bers of one fam­i­ly who died when their home was bombed.

 

Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, and Jodi Rudoren from Kfar Saba, Israel. Fares Akram contributed reporting from Gaza City, and Michael R. Gordon from Washington.

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