A police commando who was killed during fierce exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the northern West Bank in May will be awarded a citation for saving his commander in a different gun battle one month earlier.
Command Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, a 23-year veteran of the elite Yamam counterterror police unit, was killed on May 13 as forces were wrapping up an operation that included raids on terror suspects’ homes in the village of Burqin near Jenin.
The previous month, Raz was involved in the attempted arrest of a cell of Islamic Jihad members in the northern West Bank village of Arraba, near Jenin, as they were allegedly en route to commit a terror attack in Israel.
During the April incident, Raz’s commander was shot and critically hurt by the Islamic Jihad gunmen. Raz, who was a paramedic in the unit, saved his life, according to police.
Officials described the three cell members as “ticking bombs” who were ready to carry out an attack. Moments after they were killed by the unit, Raz provided “life-saving medical treatment” to the officer in a hostile environment, according to police.
Raz is slated to receive a citation by Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai during a ceremony in November.
Another paramedic who was with the force and helped save the commander’s life will get a citation at the ceremony for outstanding actions over the past two years, along with 70 other recipients.
Raz’s family will accept his commendation on his behalf.
Raz was a founding member and resident of the settlement of Kida in the West Bank and left behind a wife and six children.
He was hailed by Israeli leaders and officials as one of the best officers in the force.
Raz’s death came amid heightened tensions in the West Bank, as Israeli forces have ratcheted up arrest raids and other counterterror efforts that Palestinians say inflame anger.
Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank. The military launched the operation after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.
At least 98 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year, according to a tally from the PA health ministry, including 34 in the Jenin area alone.
According to the army most were armed Palestinians or ones who’d carried out attacks, but the number also included a veteran journalist (Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh, who held US citizenship and whose death was deemed an accident by the IDF), and some teens who violently protested Israeli raids.
More than 2,000 suspects have been detained since the beginning of the year, according to the Shin Bet security agency.