IDF arrests Palestinians living in building where brick thrown, killing soldier

Over 10 people detained as military hunts for perpetrator of attack in which Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, 21, was killed

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Israeli troops on Tuesday arrested the residents of a building in the West Bank village of Yabed from which a brick was thrown at a soldier earlier in the day, killing him, as the military searched for the perpetrator of the deadly attack.

Palestinian media reported that the Israel Defense Forces had also sent a number of armored bulldozers and other heavy engineering vehicles into the town, sparking low-level clashes.

According to the IDF’s initial investigation, in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion conducted a series of arrests in the village, west of Jenin.

As they were making their way out of the town at roughly 4:30 a.m., Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal apparently heard a sound coming from one of the rooftops on the outskirts of the village and looked up. As he did, exposing his face, someone on the roof of the three-story building threw a brick at him.

Ben-Ygal, 21, was fatally wounded, received treatment at the scene before being flown by helicopter to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Family and friends attend the funeral of Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal who was killed after being struck in the head by a large rock during a military operation earlier this morning, at the cemetery in Be’er Ya’akov, May 12, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Following the attack, the IDF — together with the Shin Bet security service — launched an investigation to find the perpetrator of the attack.

The military said it had detained upwards of 10 people as of Tuesday night, residents of the building from which the brick was thrown.

They were not necessarily suspected of having perpetrated the attack, but were brought in for questioning due to them living in the building from which the attack was carried out as they may have information about the culprit, an army spokesperson said.

Shin Bet officers will interrogate the suspects.

“Soldiers are continuing to search the area and are working to trap the terrorist,” the military said in a statement.

Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, who was killed when a rock was thrown at his head during an arrest raid in the northern West Bank village of Yabed on May 12, 2020. (Social media)

Ben-Ygal, from the central Israeli city of Ramat Gan, was the first IDF soldier to be killed in action in 2020. He was posthumously promoted from staff sergeant to sergeant first class.

His funeral was held on Tuesday evening in the military plot of the Be’er Yaakov cemetery in central Israel, the army said.

Some members of Ben-Ygal’s unit attended his funeral, while others took part in the search effort for his killer.

“I love you so much. My son is a hero,” Ben-Ygal’s mother, Nava Revivo, cried out over his grave, according to Channel 12 news. “I’ll be strong. Guard us from above.”

“You changed my life. My firstborn child. My beloved child. Your sisters don’t understand what’s happening. We’ll preserve your memory, your happiness, your love,” she said.

Family and friends attend the funeral of IDF soldier Amit Ben-Ygal at the cemetery in the central city of Be’er Yaakov, May 12, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Ben-Ygal’s father also eulogized the slain soldier, his only child.

“Amit isn’t an only child. He has millions of other siblings who are sad, who admire [him] and who know our lives in the Land of Israel depend on the courage of Amit and his friends,” Baruch Ben-Ygal said.

“I don’t have anything else. I don’t have any other children. My only son,” he said. “I’m not a father now. I’m nothing. What a price I have paid.”

Lone children are not usually allowed into combat units, especially dangerous ones, without special permission from their parents. Ben-Ygal’s father granted him special permission to serve in a combat unit. Revivo has two other children from a second marriage.

Ben-Ygal’s death came two years after IDF soldier Ronen Lubarsky was killed when he too was struck on the head by a marble slab that was thrown at him from the third floor of a building in the al-Amari Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah.

On May 24, 2018, Lubarsky — a member of the elite Duvdevan commando unit — was taking part in an arrest raid when Islam Yousef Abu Hamid threw the large slab at him. The 20-year-old Israeli sergeant — promoted posthumously to staff sergeant — died of his injuries two days later.

Hamid was convicted of murder last April.

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