SA’s Palestinian diplomat loses 8 family members

Tamer Almassri lost two sons in previous Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2006 and 2012.

FILE:  An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on 30 July, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - A total of eight family members of a Palestinian diplomat in South Africa have been killed in Gaza.

Tamer Almassri is based at the Embassy of Palestine in South Africa.

His family was killed in an attack by the Israeli defence force on Friday.

The couple had lost two sons in previous Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2006 and 2012.

Lobby group boycott diverse and sanction (BDS) said in a statement that the killing of Almassri's family should serve to highlight the magnitude of crimes against humanity in the Middle East.

Spokesperson Mahomed Desai said BDS plans to hold a Virgil at the Union Buildings next week to mourn Almassri's family and the scores of people who have died.

The group has called for decisive diplomatic protest against Israel.

ABDUCTED ISRAEL SOLDIER DEAD

Israel on Sunday declared dead a soldier feared abducted by Hamas Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip and said it would continue to fight even after the army completes destroying cross-border tunnels used by Palestinian fighters to attack its territory.

As Israeli television showed live footage of some tanks withdrawing from Gaza in an apparent winding down of the 26-day campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas would pay an "intolerable price" if it continued to attack Israel.

It was determined that Hadar Goldin, 23, the soldier Israel had feared Hamas militants abducted on Friday, was killed in action during an operation in the southern Gaza Strip, an army statement said.

"A special committee led by the Israel Defence Forces Chief Rabbi, announced the death of the IDF infantry officer of the Givati Brigade, Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, who was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday, 1 August, 2014," part of the army statement said.

Hamas' armed wing said on Saturday it had no clear indication on Goldin's whereabouts and that he may have been killed during an ambush in the southern Gaza Strip in which two other Israeli soldiers were killed.

Israel began its air and naval offensive against Gaza on 8 July following a surge of cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas and other guerrillas, later escalating into ground incursions.

Shelling exchanges continued on Saturday, pushing the Gaza death toll given by Palestinian officials to 1,675, most of them civilians. Israel has confirmed that 64 soldiers have died in combat, while Palestinian shelling has also killed three civilians in Israel.

More than 30 tunnels and dozens of access shafts have been unearthed and were being blown up, the military said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.