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Hamas denies responsibility for capture of Israeli soldier in Rafah

Aug. 1, 2014 2:51 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 2, 2014 11:22 A.M.)
Correction appended

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas confirmed that their forces had carried out an attack on Israeli forces in Rafah early Friday, but denied any connection to the capture of a soldier and strongly contested the chronology of events put forward by Israel about the collapse of the ceasefire.

Senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan said Friday that Israel is "claiming" that a soldier is missing to "cover up its crimes."

The Hamas-affiliated Al-Qassam Brigades said that "there has not been any Israeli soldier in eastern Rafah for the past 20 days, but as soon as the ceasefire was announced the Israeli movement in the area began at 2:00 a.m., (moving) 2.5 kilometers into eastern Rafah."

"In response to that, our fighters clashed with Israeli soldiers in Rafah at 7:00 a.m., killing and injuring many."

"Israel is committing crimes against our people," the statement continued. "The latest are the random shelling and airstrikes at people in eastern Rafah, violating the ceasefire and disregarding the international efforts put into this deal," al-Qassam said in a statement.

Israel earlier claimed that Hamas had carried out the attack at 9:30 a.m., violating the ceasefire that was supposed to last 72 hours.

Correction: An earlier version of the story said the al-Qassam Brigades took responsibility for the kidnapping. In fact, an earlier al-Qassam Brigades statement said the group claimed responsibility for the "operation" against Israeli soldiers but did not specifically take responsibility for the capture of a soldier as initially reported.
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