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Hamas military wing claims abducted Israeli soldier

The armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas group claimed on Sunday night that it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City.

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas group claimed on Sunday night that it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City.

"The Israeli soldier Shaul Aaron is in the hands of the Qassam Brigades," a spokesman using the nom-de-guerre Abu Obeida said in a televised address.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said they were aware of the claim and were investigating.

AFP correspondents said there were celebrations in the streets of West Bank cities Ramallah and Hebron following Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades' announcement, with Palestinians shooting guns in the air and praising Hamas.

Hamas last kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2006.

He was held until 2011, when he was freed in exchange for more than 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have subsequently been rearrested by Israel.

The claim came on day 13 of the latest flare-up in violence between Israel and Hamas, which has seen the deaths of more than 430 Palestinians and 18 Israelis.

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