IDF releases helmet cam footage of troops arresting suspected soldier killer
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IDF releases helmet cam footage of troops arresting suspected soldier killer

Israeli forces nab suspect two weeks after he allegedly dropped a stone block on Ronen Lubarsky during a raid

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The army on Wednesday released additional footage from the arrest of a Palestinian man suspected of killing an IDF soldier last month during a raid in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The video was filmed by a camera attached to one of the arresting soldiers’ helmets.

The footage shows soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit entering the refugee camp on June 6 on a mission to arrest Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, 32, who was suspected of killing one of their comrades, Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky.

The Duvdevan soldiers can be seen moving through the alleyways of the refugee camp, guns drawn, in daylight, supported by a member of the K-9 Oketz unit and his dog. The arrest itself does not appear in the footage.

Ronen Lubarsky, an IDF soldier from the Duvdevan unit who died on May 26, 2018 after being critically injured by a slab thrown on his head two days earlier (Courtesy)

On May 24, Lubarsky’s unit entered al-Am’ari in search of a group of terrorists suspected of carrying out shooting attacks on nearby highways, the army said.

During the raid, Hamid allegedly dropped a large stone slab on the special forces soldier’s head from the roof of a three-story building, fatally wounding him.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Shin Bet security service revealed that Hamid had been arrested.

Details of the arrest were kept under a court-issued gag order until Wednesday.

After the Shin Bet made the announcement, the IDF released another video from the June 6 raid, showing special forces soldiers entering al-Am’ari in daylight and arresting Hamid in his home, along with a number of other suspects.

The Shin Bet said it believed Hamid was responsible for the attack that killed Lubarsky “following intelligence activities.”

Lubarsky, 20, was critically injured in the attack and succumbed to his wounds in the hospital a few hours later. He was laid to rest the next morning at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery. The army posthumously promoted him to the rank of staff sergeant.

Israeli troops on June 6, 2018, arrest a Palestinian man suspected of killing an IDF soldier by dropping a stone slab on his head in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah the month before. (Screen capture: Israel Defense Forces)

“Since this difficult event, we’ve operated in collaboration with the Shin Bet and other forces in the refugee camp,” said the deputy commander of the Duvdevan unit in a Hebrew video statement on Wednesday.

“In addition, we have continued to operate constantly in Judea and Samaria, at all hours of the day, in order to stop and prevent terror attacks that would harm the citizens of the State of Israel,” he said using the biblical term for the West Bank.

A few days after Lubarsky was killed, the military carried out another raid in al-Am’ari, in an apparent effort to locate the soldier’s killer. Clashes broke out between residents and the Israeli troops, with 13 Palestinians getting lightly or moderately injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said at the time.

According to the Shin Bet, Hamid had been incarcerated in Israeli prison from 2004 to 2009 for terrorist activities committed on behalf of the Hamas group.

Israeli troops on June 6, 2018, arrest a Palestinian man suspected of killing an IDF soldier by dropping a stone slab on his head in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah the month before. (Israel Defense Forces)

In a statement, the security service also said Hamid’s brothers were also members of Hamas.

“Islam’s brothers are Hamas operatives who have in the past carried out terror attacks in which Israelis were killed, including Shin Bet agent Noam Cohen,” the Shin Bet said.

Cohen was killed in 1994 when Hamas members opened fire at his car while he was driving with a Hamas informant in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The Shin Bet said its investigation was ongoing and that all other details besides Hamid’s arrest remained under a gag order.

Soldiers carry the coffin of their comrade Ronen Lubarsky during his funeral at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on May 27, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the arrest of the suspected killer showed that “no one is immune and no vile terrorist can hide from the arms of the defense establishment.”

After Lubarsky’s death, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that his killer would be brought to justice.

“Our security forces will get to the terrorist, and the State of Israel will bring him to justice,” Netanyahu said.

Friends and family attend the funeral of IDF soldier Ronen Lubarsky at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, on May 27, 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At his funeral, Lubarsky, from the central city of Rehovot, was remembered as being exemplary and a “warrior.”

“My dear brother, how did we arrive at this strange situation?” Lubarsky’s brother Eric said at the funeral, which was attended by hundreds. “You fought. Throughout your life you chose all of the closed doors and were better than everyone else. I’m sure you chose this moment too.”

The commander of Lubarsky’s Duvdevan unit, Lt. Col. A, praised the deceased as “the son of a family of warriors, the salt of the earth. While we prayed at your bedside in the hospital, your mother pointed at members of the family and said, ‘They’re all warriors, but Ronen is the best.’ Your mother was right. You were among the finest fighters in the unit.”

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