Hamas claims capture of Israeli soldiers in northern Gaza fighting

Hamas claims capture of Israeli soldiers in northern Gaza fighting

Hamas says it has captured Israeli soldiers during fighting in northern Gaza, but Tel Aviv denies the claim.

A Hamas spokesman said that its fighters “lured” a contingent of Israeli soldiers into a tunnel in Jabalia on Saturday and ambushed them.

“The fighters withdrew after they left all members of the force dead, wounded and captured,” Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said in a recorded message broadcast by Al Jazeera early on Sunday.

The spokesman did not provide any evidence or specify how many soldiers were abducted.

A video released by Hamas shows a bloodied person being dragged along the ground in a tunnel and photos of military fatigue and rifle.

The authenticity of the video or the identity of the person could not be immediately verified.

The Israeli military denied the Hamas claim.

“The IDF clarifies that there is no incident in which a soldier was abducted,” the military said in a statement.

The Israeli military previously claimed to have fully dismantled the Hamas command network in northern Gaza.

Hamas announced the capture of Israeli soldiers just hours after reports came that ceasefire talks could be resuming.

A decision was made to resume the negotiations sometime next week after the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency met the chief of the CIA and the prime minister of Qatar, Reuters reported, quoting an anonymous source.

The source, who declined to be identified by name or nationality, said the “negotiations will open based on new proposals led by the mediators, Egypt and Qatar, and with active US involvement”.

But a Hamas official denied Israeli media reports that the talks would resume in Cairo on Tuesday, telling Reuters: “There is no date.”

The mediators have struggled to get a ceasefire deal done, with Israel seeking the release of hostages held by Hamas and the Palestinian group demanding an end to the war and the release of Palestinians held in Israel’s prisons.

Meanwhile, nearly 200 aid trucks are expected to enter Gaza via the Karem Abu Salem crossing today.

Food aid for Gaza has been rotting in the summer heat as the Israeli military keeps the Rafah border crossing with Egypt closed for the third week running, intensifying the hunger crisis in the Palestinian territory.

Israel’s war in Gaza has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians so far, reduced much of the territory’s infrastructure to rubble and left over 80 percent of its 2.3 million people without adequate food and shelter.

Additional reporting by agencies