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On the same day Israel acknowledged one of its soldiers had been taken by Hamas, Israel said it was continuing to make headway in its attack on Gaza militants from the land, sea and air.

Israel has said its campaign, launched July 8, is aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel — some 2,000 rockets have been launched over the past two weeks, the military says — and destroying tunnels it says Hamas has constructed from Gaza into Israel for attacks against Israelis.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Peter Lerner told reporters on Tuesday he estimated that the Israel's army had destroyed 50% percent of Hamas' infiltration tunnels. In the last week, Israel has foiled two attacks by militants attempting to use the tunnels to gain access to its southern communities.

Since the start of Israel's military campaign in Gaza on July 8, the IDF has targeted over 1,715 military sites and uncovered 66 access shafts of 23 tunnels -- six of which were detonated in a controlled manner, according to the IDF.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri in Gaza claimed his group had captured an Israeli soldier on Sunday, a claim Israel initially denied. An announcement on Gaza TV of the soldier's capture set off celebration in the streets of the West Bank.

On Tuesday, Israel admitted Hamas destroyed an infantry APC in Gaza on Sunday, that carried Oron Shaul, 21, and six other soldiers. Israel has identified the bodies of the six soldiers from that attack, but not Shaul's.

"We had seven soldiers in the armed personnel carrier and can account for six. We have one soldier that is unaccounted for and the forensics has yet to determine if we have remains of that soldier," Lerner said.

Lerner said that identification work is still ongoing.

Shaul's family is holding out hope until definitive evidence is found.

"As far as we are concerned, as long as the examinations are not completed, as long as the IDF is still working and there are no conclusive findings on the issue – as far as the family is concerned Oron is not dead," said Rachel Gazit, a Shaul family spokesperson.

The development further complicates international efforts to broker a truce to end more than two weeks of fighting that has killed at least 585 Palestinians and 29 Israelis.

In Khan Yunis, Israel's Paratroopers brigade, which is operating in that city, identified and attacked a squad of Hamas militants. At least ten of them were hit, the IDF said.

Israel said Tuesday that Hamas fired 30 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, 10 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. Among the 18 rockets that exploded, one landed in the Israeli community of Yehud, near Israel's largest city of Tel Aviv, and Ben-Gurion International airport.

Israel's Magen David Adom said that 12 Israeli citizens treated for shock Tuesday and 4 were slightly injured as they ran for bomb shelters. Since the IDF's military operation against Gaza began 15 days ago, Magen David Adom said 430 Israeli citizens have been treated, the majority of them were shock victims.

In the last 15 days, Hamas has fired 2,100 rockets at residential and commercial areas of Israel, and 410 have been intercepted by Iron Dome, according to the IDF. They also say 93 rockets have hit residential or commercial areas in Israel.

On the battlefield, 27 Israeli soldiers were killed, including one on Tuesday and eight on Monday.


Israel feels a strong need not to leave any of its soldiers behind, including the remains of dead ones, and has engaged in lopsided prisoner swaps with its foes to bring home captured soldiers. In 2008, Israel released five Lebanese militants in exchange for the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2006 Lebanon war.

Also in 2006, Hamas-allied militants seized an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid and held him captive in Gaza until Israel traded more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom were involved in grisly killings, for his return in 2011.

Hamas had threatened in the past to kidnap more Israelis and Israel says the militant group's attacks through tunnels that stretch into Israel are for this purpose.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Cairo late Monday to launch the highest-level push yet to end the deadly conflict. Officials from the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Arab countries are also in Cairo.The U.N. has said that the majority of the Palestinians killed were civilians, among them dozens of children.

Upon arrival in Cairo, Kerry announced that the United States would provide $47 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza.

President Obama said Kerry was pressing "immediate cessation of hostilities" structured after a 2012 cease-fire.

"We have a serious concern about the number of Palestinian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives," Obama said, adding that time is of the essence to "stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and Israel."

"There are enormous passions involved," Obama acknowledged. "Difficult, strategic issues are involved."

Ban is still pushing for a truce. In New York, the U.N. Security Council expressed "serious concern" about Gaza's rising civilian death toll.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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