An IDF combat soldier was killed on Friday during operational activity near southern Gaza, it has been cleared for publication.
Staff Sergeant Aviv Levi, HY”D, 20, was named as the IDF soldier killed on Friday by a Hamas sniper near the Gaza-Israel border.
Levi, a resident of Petah Tikva, served in the IDF’s Givati Brigade.
Levi was killed two weeks before his 21st birthday and three months before the end of his IDF service. He is the first IDF soldier to be killed in the Gaza border area since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
A terrorist squad shot at IDF troops and the IDF soldier was severely injured. He later succumbed to his wounds, said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
The soldier’s family has been notified.
Following the serious incident, IAF jets on Friday evening launched a wide-scale attack against Hamas military targets throughout the Gaza Strip.
As of 11:00 p.m. Israel time, the IDF struck 40 military targets belonging to Hamas in northern and southern Gaza.
15 of the targets were located in a Hamas battalion headquarter in northern Gaza. The IDF significantly damaged the headquarters capabilities
An additional attack targeted 25 military targets located in a Hamas battalion headquarters in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The IDF eliminated the battalion’s command.
Among the targets were weaponry warehouses, equipment storage, training facilities, observation posts, command and control rooms, the battalion’s operation room, the battalion commander’s office, and additional infrastructure, said the IDF.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was holding a second assessment of the security situation at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), and senior IDF and defense establishment officials were in attendance as well.
The IDF announced earlier on Friday evening that it had launched the attack on Hamas targets following a serious incident earlier in the day.
“The IDF views today’s attack and the hostile activity orchestrated by Hamas throughout the last months with great severity. Hamas chose to escalate the security situation and will bear the consequences for its actions,” said the IDF earlier on Friday.
“IDF troops are on high alert and will continue to operate in order to ensure the safety of Israeli civilians,” it added.
IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis, speaking to Kan News, said, “I suggest that our readiness not be tested. We are currently engaged in an offensive action against Hamas. Hamas has been in pain in recent months and it will suffer losses tonight as well.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived on Friday evening at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv in order to hold security consultations following the deterioration in the situation in the south.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Chief of Staff Eizenkot are also present at the meeting.
While the Home Front Command did not issue special instructions to the residents of the Gaza Belt communities, in an assessment of the situation in the Gaza Division with the leaders of the communities, it was determined that the residents of the area will remain close to protected spaces.
Earlier on Friday, explosions sounded in northern Gaza as the IDF pounded Hamas positions.
According to the Gaza health ministry, at least four Palestinian Arabs were killed in the clashes.
Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers said three of its members were among those killed.
The IDF said, “Earlier today, shots were fired at IDF soldiers from the southern Gaza Strip during the violent riots along the security fence. In response, IDF aircraft and tanks targeted eight military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip.”
“In addition, a number of explosive devices were hurled during the violent riots,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.