The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday finished identifying the bodies of six of the seven Israeli soldiers whose armored personnel carrier was attacked by an anti-tank missile in the Gaza neighborhood of Shujaiyeh on Sunday, and released their names to the public. The army also formally declared that the seventh soldier, identified as Sgt. Oron Shaul, as "missing."
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The prevailing assumption among military circles is that Shaul did not survive the attack.
The seven belonged to the Golani Brigade and were among the ground forces attacking Gaza in Operation Protective Edge. All seven families have been informed of the circumstances of the attack, the IDF said in a statement, adding, "The efforts to identify the seventh soldier are ongoing and have yet to be determined."
An IDF officer said Tuesday morning that the army could not say anymore on the matter at this moment. Hamas' military wing said Sunday that it had abducted a soldier during the battle in Shujaiyeh, displaying his name and ID number at a press conference that day. The army said that the identification process was still ongoing.
The other six soldiers have been named: Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24 of Be'er Sheva; Staff Sgt. Shachar Tase, 20 of Pardesiya; Staff Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz 20, of Kfar Azar; Sgt. Shon Mondshine, 19 of Tel Aviv; Sgt. Ben Itzhak Oananounou, 19 of Ashdod; and Staff Sgt. Oren Simcha Noach, 22, of Hoshaya.
The incident took place on the outskirts of the Gaza city area, when their armored vehicle reportedly broke down, Arutz 7 reports, adding that an anti-tank missile hit the stuck vehicle. The soldiers inside were badly burned, hence the difficulty in identification, reports the site. The head of the IDF manpower corps, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, visited the seventh soldier's family and told them the chances of finding him alive are slim.
Nine more soldiers were killed on Monday, bringing the toll on the Israeli side to 27 in this conflict. At least 130 Palestinians have been killed so far in the ground operation, raising the recent escalation's death toll in Gaza to 508, with 3,130 wounded.