Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman vowed Thursday to catch the attacker who critically injured an Israeli soldier from an elite unit by dropping a marble slab three stories down onto his head during an army operation to arrest a wanted man near Ramallah in the West Bank.
“We view the incident with great severity,” Liberman wrote on Twitter.
“The despicable terrorist who hurt him won’t know any rest. It won’t be long before we lay our hands on him, dead or alive,” Liberman said.
He said that the whole of Israel was praying for the soldier’s recovery.
The heavy slab was thrown from a third-story rooftop at a group of troops conducting an arrest raid early Thursday morning in al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah, the army said.
Later Thursday, the IDF revealed that the soldiers had been on a mission to arrest members of a terror cell who had been carrying out shooting attacks. One member of the cell was nabbed during the raid and two more on Thursday, the army said. There was no indication that the Palestinian who threw the rock was one of the cell members.
The slab hit the soldier in the head, and he was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in critical condition, where he remained sedated and on a respirator.
According to the army’s initial investigation, the soldier was wearing a helmet at the time of the attack.
The military said the assailant had fled. It said it had launched an investigation into the incident and that additional details were still being established.
The soldier serves in the elite Duvdevan Unit, which operates extensively in the West Bank.
The military cleared the incident for publication several hours after it occurred, to notify the soldier’s family first.
Army operations to arrest Palestinian suspects — 1,380 of whom were seized last year in missions of this kind, according to Hadashot News — involve dangerous nighttime forays into narrow streets and alleys and frequently expose soldiers to hails of rocks and other heavy objects thrown by Palestinians.