By Alexander Bolton - 08/02/14 10:48 AM EDT
The whereabouts of an Israeli soldier who disappeared during a ceasefire in Gaza remain unknown Saturday, complicating diplomatic efforts to resolve the 26-day war between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas claims it is not holding 23-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, who disappeared on Friday morning around the time a ceasefire was scheduled to take effect.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, claimed Israeli forces first opened fire.
Palestinian officials reported that Israeli strikes Saturday killed more than 30 civilians in Rafa, the Gazan town where Goldin disappeared, as Israeli soldiers swept the town searching for their comrade.
Hamas estimates 1,650 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the past month while Israel has lost 63 soldiers and 3 civilians so far.
Haaretz reports that Israel will not negotiate another ceasefire.
A Hamas official said Goldin was likely killed by one of the retaliatory strikes by Israel’s defense force, according to Haaretz.
President Obama told reporters Friday the broken ceasefire will make it difficult to reach a diplomatic settlement in the near future.
“It's going to take some time. I think it's going to be very hard to put a cease-fire back together again if Israelis and the international community can't feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a cease-fire commitment,” he said.