Oron Shaul, a 21-year-old sergeant in the Golani Brigade, has been declared missing in action following the attack early Sunday on the armored personnel carrier he was riding in as Israeli troops advanced in Gaza City. Shaul is from Poriya, a community near Tiberias.
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The six other soldiers with him in the vehicle were killed and their bodies have been identified. Two other soldiers were seriously wounded.
“Efforts at identification and clarification regarding the seventh fighter continue to be conducted at all levels,” the Israel Defense Forces said, adding that it was in continuous contact with the family.
Hamas’ military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, said Sunday it had captured an Israeli soldier during the fighting in Gaza City’s Shujaiyeh neighborhood. At a press conference, Hamas members stated Oron’s name and a serial number.
The head of the IDF Personnel Directorate visited the Shauls’ home Tuesday. “They told us ... they informed the six families of the soldiers who were killed that they had been positively identified as fallen soldiers,” said Racheli Gazit, a cousin.
“But they hadn’t found anything on Oron. There were other findings at the scene that were removed today and are still being checked. The moment there are any new findings they’ll update us.”
A former Personnel Directorate head, MK Elazar Stern (Hatnuah), also visited the Shaul family.
“We have here a strong family that relies on the IDF and the Israeli government to do everything it can to neutralize this excruciating uncertainty in the shortest time possible,” he said. “I left there proud that even in difficult situations the families of our fighters conduct themselves this way.”
Stern added: “The Personnel Directorate, the IDF and the Israeli government are turning every stone to clarify with 100-percent certainty how this uncertainty can be resolved, after which appropriate steps will be taken.”
On Sunday, the armored personnel carrier was ambushed and hit by a projectile, thought to be a rocket-propelled grenade, though it’s also possible that a roadside charge was detonated. The APC was badly damaged, and the army is checking whether the impact set off ammunition in the vehicle.
On Tuesday, the IDF continued searching the area for DNA evidence that might ascertain whether Shaul had been killed.