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Israel: Soldier reported captured was 'killed in battle'

Gaza City (CNN) -- The soldier that Israel claimed Hamas militants captured Friday, as a temporary cease-fire to the conflict in Gaza rapidly unraveled, is dead, Israel's military said.

"Lieutenant Hadar Goldin ... was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday, August 1," the Israel Defense Forces announced early Sunday.

It's not clear whether Goldin, 23, was captured as the IDF had previously said, or whether he died alongside two other soldiers in an armed clash in Gaza.

Speculation about his fate was already up in the air after the armed wing of Hamas, the al Qassam Brigades, announced it had lost contact with a group of its fighters in the Rafah area -- the same area where Goldin was reportedly taken.

This undated photo shows Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23 from Kfar Saba, Israel.

In a statement posted on its website, the militant group says it assumes all the fighters died in an Israeli airstrike, including possibly an Israeli soldier. The group -- which denied having any info on Goldin -- stopped short of definitively saying the soldier was captured, using the phrasing "assuming he was captured by the fighters."

Whatever happened, the entire ordeal has only served to heighten the hostilities -- Israel on the one side claiming it must attack Gaza in order to prevent the onslaught of rocket attacks on its territory, while Hamas and other Palestinians assert Israel is the aggressor and directly responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths.

And the bloodshed shows no signs of letting up.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Saturday to "continue to act in full scale" against Hamas until all militant tunnels are destroyed.

In the past day, 50 Palestinians were reported killed amid renewed Israeli shelling following Goldin's reported abduction.

Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv on Saturday that Israeli troops "managed to hurt severely" the capability of Hamas during the Gaza operation.

"Israel will do everything to bring our kidnapped soldier home," he said hours before news of Goldin's death came out, offering his condolences to the families of soldiers killed during the incursion.

Netanyahu said forces won't stop until "quiet, peace and calm" is restored to Israel.

"In the beginning of the operation we promised to bring back calm and order and we will continue to operate until this goal is reached no matter how much time or force it takes," he said.

Netanyahu said that after the tunnels are destroyed, Israeli forces will "regroup," depending on their security needs.

Izzat Risheq a senior Hamas leader and a member of its political bureau, told CNN that Netanyahu's statement was "an admission of failure, defeat and confusion."

"The Palestinian resistance will continue to stand up to this Zionist aggression and defend our people until this aggression stops and the siege ends and the just goals of our people are achieved," he said.

Read more here.

 

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