Hamas says it captured members of Israeli force in ambush

Israel denies any soldier was abducted in what Hamas said was a special operation in Jabalia refugee camp

May 25, 2024

Hamas said Palestinian fighters captured members of an Israeli force in an ambush inside the Gaza Strip on Saturday, a claim denied by the Israeli military.

Abu Obaida, spokesman for the group’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades, said fighters killed, wounded or captured members of the Israeli force during fighting in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

He did not say how many had been abducted and provided no further information about their identities. He said more details would follow soon.

“Our fighters lured a Zionist force into an ambush inside a tunnel … The fighters withdrew after they left all members of the force dead, wounded, and captured,” Abu Obaida said in a recorded message broadcast by Al Jazeera early on Sunday.

The Israeli military was quick to deny the claim.

“The IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) clarifies that there is no incident in which a soldier was abducted,” a military spokesperson said in a statement.

Abu Obaida’s message was followed by a video released by al-Qassam Brigades showing fighters pulling inside a tunnel a man who appeared to be unconscious. He was pulled alongside military gear.

The video separately showed three semi-automatic rifles and other military gear that Hamas said were taken from the captured Israelis.

Middle East Eye could not independently verify when or where the video was filmed.

The comments by Abu Obaida came after weeks of renewed intense close-quarter combat across the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, according to Israeli and Palestinian media.

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The Israeli military sent tanks and troops to Rafah and north Gaza in fresh attacks early in May.

The advances have been met by some of the fiercest resistance by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, especially in the Jabalia refugee camp.

The heavy fighting has coincided with an increase in carpet bombing by Israeli jets, flattening neighbourhoods in Jabalia and Rafah.

Israeli forces have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since 7 October, the majority of them children and women.

Palestinians have killed more than 1,500 Israelis in the same period, the majority of them during the Hamas-led attack in southern Israel on 7 October.

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