A 20-year-old IDF soldier who was critically injured during combat in the Gaza Strip on July 23 succumbed to his wounds Sunday at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, becoming the 72nd Israeli fatality of the conflict.
Sergeant Shachar Shalev’s funeral will be held Sunday evening at the Hispin cemetery in the Golan Heights, near his hometown of Alonei Habashan.
Shalev, a fighter in the Paratrooper Brigade, was severely wounded when his unit, from the brigade’s elite demolitions company, entered a booby-trapped house in Khan Younis during a search for terror tunnels. While the soldiers were inside the house, Hamas operatives nearby detonated an explosive charge, collapsing a wing of the building. Gunmen then opened fire on the troops, killing three men on the spot.
The fallen soldiers were named as Lt. Paz Elyahu, 22, from Kibbutz Evron; Staff Sergeant Li Mat, 19, from Eilat; and Staff Sergeant Shahar Dauber, 20, from Kibbutz Ginegar. One more soldier, aside from Shalev, was seriously injured in the attack, and 10 more suffered moderate wounds.
The paratroopers continued fighting throughout the day, unearthing additional tunnels and bringing the total of discovered cross-border tunnels to 30 with upwards of 70 entry shafts, an army spokesperson said.
In an attempt to save Shalev’s life, both of his legs were amputated at the hospital, and doctors said he was in desperate need of platelet donations. Hundreds of people responded to his doctors’ calls, and dozens offered their platelets after they were found to be a suitable match, hospital officials said.
“The community of Alonei Habashan bows its head [in sorrow] over the untimely passing of one of its sons, who fought bravely for our country, and was severely wounded at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, and has been fighting for his life until he ceased,” a statement issued by the Alonei Habashan municipality read, according to Walla.
“Shachar was born and raised in Alonei Habashan and is the first casualty of our community in the battles of Israel. May he be the last. We Thank the people of Israel who participated with us in prayer, the medical teams in the Soroka and Rambam hospitals who attempted day and night to save his life, and to all the many volunteers along the way – those who knew him and those who did not. The Alonei Habashan community embraces the family in this time of unbearable grief.”
Shalev’s death brought to 66 the number of soldiers killed during the 50-day conflict with Hamas. Six civilians were also killed on the Israeli side, including a Thai worker and a four-year-old boy.