Dreaded Day

Hamas Claims Capture of Israeli Soldier

On the deadliest day so far in the rapidly widening Gaza-Israel conflict, the militant group Hamas claimed to have captured an Israeli soldier. Moments after the Al Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obaida announced on Hamas TV that the soldier had been captured, fireworks erupted in the streets and cries of "God is great!" blared from mosque loudspeakers. The last Israeli soldier captured was Gilad Shalit, who was taken in 2006 and held for five years before finally being swapped for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom went on to stage attacks against Israelis. Thus, the capture of a soldier represents a massive propaganda victory for Hamas and poses political challenges for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: It will be difficult to halt an operation in Gaza with a soldier in enemy hands. A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said the army was investigating.