A soldier from an elite army unit died Saturday after being critically injured Thursday when a marble slab was dropped on his head during an operation to arrest suspected terrorists in the West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces named the soldier as Ronen Lubarsky, 20, from the central city of Rehovot.
The army posthumously promoted him to the rank of staff sergeant.
He was to be buried at 2 a.m. overnight Saturday-Sunday at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.
“On Shabbat we lost Duvdevan soldier Sergeant Ronen Lubarsky, who was critically wounded during an operation to arrest wanted suspects,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. “Duvdevan, one our elite units, every night carries out many arrests in an endless war…”
“I wish to send my condolences to the family in the family of the entire nation of Israel and am closely monitoring the efforts to arrest the terrorist,” added Liberman. “We will bring justice for Ronen.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his condolences to Lubarsky’s family.
“Our security forces will get to the terrorist and the State of Israel will bring him to justice,” he said.
President Reuven Rivlin said he had spoken to Lubarsky’s parents when the soldier was fighting for his life in the hospital, and had sent prayers for his recovery. “Today however, we are greatly pained to send our sympathies as we share in this great tragedy.”
Rivlin offered a message of “strength to the wonderful fighters and commanders of his unit, the best of our young men, who go out every night on operations which ensure we are able to carry on our day-to-day lives in safety.”
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.
Lubarsky was hospitalized in critical condition at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem’s intensive care unit.
On 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 later on Thursday, the army said. The raid was based on intelligence information obtained in coordination with the Shin Bet security agency.
On Thursday, Liberman vowed to catch the attacker. “We view the incident with great severity,” Liberman wrote on Twitter.
“The despicable terrorist who hurt [the soldier] won’t know any rest. It won’t be long before we lay our hands on him, dead or alive,” Liberman said.
According to the army’s initial investigation, the soldier was wearing a helmet at the time of the attack.
The assailant was not fired upon, the army said, because he was not identified.
The army said the soldiers were familiar with the risks of objects being thrown at them from previous operations in refugee camps. It said almost every time troops enter a camp in the West Bank objects are thrown at them by Palestinians, including washing machines, refrigerators, and heavy furniture.
The military cleared the incident for publication several hours after it occurred, to give time to notify the soldier’s family first.
1,380 Palestinian suspects were arrested last year in missions of this kind, according to Hadashot television news.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.