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In first Gaza-border fatality since 2014, Israeli soldier shot and killed by Hamas

Givati Brigade Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi, 21, from Petach ‎Tikvah, was shot by a Hamas sniper on Friday, becoming the first IDF fatality ‎since “Operation Protective Edge” • A sniper’s round had penetrated Levi’s bulletproof vest, inflicting a critical chest wound.

Givati Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi
Givati Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi

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.

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