(July 22, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Givati Brigade Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi, 21, from Petach Tikvah, was killed on Friday by a Hamas sniper during a clash on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, the military said on Saturday.
Levi was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was hit and sustained a critical chest injury. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but his condition deteriorated quickly, and he succumbed to his wounds.
He is the first Israel Defense Forces’ fatality on the Gaza front since “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
Levi was the oldest of four siblings. His parents and two younger brothers were on holiday in Italy when they received the tragic news and flew back to Israel immediately.
“Aviv was a born leader. I don’t know how we’re supposed to go on from here. We’ve lost our crowning glory,” said his father, Yaakov Levi.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying, “I send condolences from the bottom of my heart, for myself and on behalf of the Israeli public, to the parents and siblings of Aviv Levi, an IDF Givati Brigade fighter who was killed on the Gaza border.
“Together with his comrades, Aviv fought with determination and heroism against terrorism from the Gaza Strip. To our sorrow, this struggle sometimes exacts a price that is heavy for us to bear. Our hearts are with the family.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman echoed the sentiment. “Levi fell defending the nation, the land and the residents of the Gaza-vicinity communities. My heart is with his family. May his memory be blessed,” Lieberman tweeted.
Levi’s killing triggered a wave of Israeli airstrikes on Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. Four people—three of them confirmed by Hamas as operatives—were killed in the strikes.
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was eventually brokered by Egypt. Hadashot evening news reported Saturday that while Israel’s response was unusually harsh, the IDF was on the brink of a more dramatic operation when Hamas rushed to agree to a ceasefire.
The report was not corroborated by any military official.
Levi’s funeral was scheduled for noon on Sunday. He will be laid to rest at the military cemetery in Petach Tikvah.