Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out any talks with the Palestinian Authority to secure the release of an Israeli soldier who is believed to be in the hands of resistance fighters who carried on Sunday a pre-dawn attack at the Kerem Shalom Israeli crossing, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
The missing soldier was identified as Corporal Gilad Shalit, 19. Israeli military sources said that Shalit was abducted after Palestinian fighters fired a missile at the tank in which he was located; two other soldiers inside the tank were killed and a fourth was seriously injured.
Three Palestinian fighters were killed in the attack that was carried out by fighters from three different Palestinian resistance groups including Al-Qassm brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas party, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and a newly known group which called itself, the Islamic Army.
Later on Sunday, the three groups said that they did not abduct any soldier during the attack.
Israeli army Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, said held Hamas responsible for the attack and said that they are “involved in it from head to foot”.
Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, said in a joint press conference with Halutz that Israel will make every needed effort to secure the release of the missing soldier.
Halutz confirmed, according to the Israeli online daily Haaretz, that the soldier was alive, adding that Hamas, as the head of the Palestinian government, bears responsibility for his fate.
Meanwhile, Israel’s opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the “hesitancy and paralysis” of the Olmert government had encouraged Hamas to launch the attack.
Israeli cabinet members have hinted on Sunday that senior figures in Hamas may be targeted for assassination, among them Palestinian Prime Minister, a senior Hamas leaders, Ismail Haniyya.