The streets in Ramallah and Gaza erupted in ecstasy tonight after Hamas announced that it had captured an Israeli soldier in the neighborhood of Hayye al Tuffah (Apple) in Gaza. After the neighborhood had been attacked by Israeli airstrikes for three nights, Israeli ground troops entered the neighborhood and according to the Kataeb al-Qassam brigades, Hamas’ military wing, they captured an Israeli soldier.
It is not clear that the soldier is alive. From NBC:
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 20, 2014
The confusion includes the soldier’s name. Occupied Palestine posted the photo above and identified the soldier as Shaul Aaron. Kataeb al-Qassam brigades video (paraphrased, translated from Arabic audio) announcement:
The enemy has been hiding its casualties since operations started and we have finally forced them to admit to their losses. But one thing they have not admitted to yet, is the loss of one of their soldiers. They are trying to hide the disappeared and his name is Shaul Aaron.
And then he announced the soldier’s military identification numbers: 6092065. Al Jazeera English tweeted:
But according to Israeli human rights worker Elizabeth Tsurkov, a Shaul Oron was said to have been killed last night, and friends were mourning him on his Facebook page. “Shaul Oron’s body is currently located at Tel HaShomer hospital. Soon to be transferred to Abu Kabir morgue, then to burial,” Tsurkov said.
Mondoweiss contacted the Israeli military and asked them if they could clarify if a soldier had been captured. They said: “we’re looking into it.”
In Ramallah by 10 pm the city’s center was full with 7,000 protesters. While hours earlier the streets were desolate and shops shuttered out of sympathy for the losses in Gaza, after the evening dinner break for the Ramadan fast, Ramallah was growling.
A group of 1,000 then marched to nearby Beit El settlement, reaching the Israeli West Bank residential community and army base by 10:30 pm. As with most Ramallah demonstrations the protesters were met with two authorities: Palestinian and Israeli. The Palestinian security forces then pushed back the demonstrators from the settlement by firing tear gas and sound grenades. The demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at the Palestinian preventative security.
“There’s still clashes now. I can hear it from my office. Tear gas and sound grenades,” said Samer Nazzal a journalist with the Palestinian outlet Raya FM. Nazzal spoke to Deger on the phone from his editing desk cutting footage from the demonstration for tonight’s program. “It is like a real Intifada,” he continued. In the background police car sirens rang and cars honked.
By 11 pm Arabic news stations were reporting al-Qassam Brigdaes had captured the Israeli soldier. With Ramallah already a scene of dissidence, others left their homes and took to the streets setting off fire works, gun shots and cheering praise for Hamas’s armed wing. “Qassam, Qassam!” they sang, followed by the blare of police sirens.
CNN broadcast a report on the Palestinian celebrations and described them as “macabre.” An analyst on Lebanese Mayadeen television reported that a hostage was captured last night but it was not announced until tonight for reasons of “psychological warfare”.