Soldier killed in checkpoint shooting buried as hunt for suspect enters third day
Hundreds attend Noa Lazar’s funeral near her hometown in central Israel; 18-year-old’s battalion commander credits her for having thwarted many terror attacks during her service
A soldier who was shot dead at an East Jerusalem checkpoint by a Palestinian gunman over the weekend was laid to rest on Monday night, as the manhunt for the suspect entered its third day.
Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, was buried at a cemetery in Kfar Yona, near her central Israel hometown of Bat Hefer.
Hundreds of relatives and friends attended the late-night ceremony, which was closed to the press.
With Lazar’s grandparents abroad at the time of her killing, her family waited to hold the funeral until late Monday night, after the first day of the Sukkot holiday.
Among those who spoke at the funeral was Hagai Sin Itzik, the head of the Military Police’s Erez battalion, where Lazar served.
“Despite the challenges, you did not give up on yourself, you quickly understood the importance of the job and carried it out seriously, with dedication and professionalism,” Itzik said in remarks obtained by the Ynet news site.
“We were impressed by your quick learning abilities and we grew to trust you. You managed to thwart terror attacks and thus contributed significantly to the security of the country and its citizens,” her commander continued.
“In just a short time you became a leading, significant and prominent figure in the unit. You were loved, surrounded by friends, full of joy and had a contagious laugh. Your special character influenced everyone.”
Friends and acquaintances of Lazar remembered the fallen soldier after waking up to the news of her death on Sunday morning.
“She was a wonderful girl, bright, smiling, funny, beautiful and so friendly,” recalled Lihi Avizohar, who knew Lazar from Scouts youth group activities in Bat Hefer, near the coastal city of Netanya.
Another friend wrote: “My beautiful angel, I can’t believe that I am writing this. I love you. You are my dearest partner, and my heart is crushed into a thousand pieces.”
Emek Hefer Regional Council head Galit Shaul commented on the “painful and difficult morning for Emek Hefer” and offered her support to Lazar’s family and friends.
Lazar was shot late Saturday night along with a civilian guard when a gunman opened fire at a checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem. The guard was hospitalized in serious condition. Lazar was rushed to the hospital but died of her wounds shortly after.
The suspected shooter was named by Hebrew-language media as Udai Tamimi, a 22-year-old resident of the refugee camp.
Israeli security forces were still searching for Tamimi Tuesday morning, with large numbers of police, troops and Shin Bet security service agents taking part. The suspect apparently managed to slip into the refugee camp after the killing, police said.
During the attack, Tamimi casually emerged from the passenger side of a white vehicle stopped at the checkpoint, walked up to a group of soldiers and opened fire from nearly point-blank range.
Video of the incident released Sunday showed two soldiers fall to the ground after the shooting, and the others dive for cover. The gunman is seen continuing to shoot at one person on the ground before fleeing, apparently after his gun jammed.
According to a report by the Ynet news site, an initial investigation found that the shooting took place just as soldiers were switching shifts, considered a tactical weak point at any checkpoint and requiring increased security. The incident is expected to lead to the dismissal of some of the commanders at the scene, Ynet reported.
Four individuals suspected of aiding in the shooting attack were arrested overnight Saturday-Sunday and were ordered to remain in custody until at least October 16 as the investigation continues, a police statement said.
According to Hebrew media reports, the suspect’s mother, father and brother have also been detained. The brother turned himself in for questioning by Israeli forces, as did the driver of the vehicle from which Tamimi emerged, Ynet reported. The driver and three other passengers of the vehicle denied knowledge of Tamimi’s intentions, Haaretz reported.
Access to the Shuafat refugee camp and other areas of East Jerusalem was heavily restricted amid the manhunt and forces who pushed into Shuafat on Sunday were confronted by dozens of Palestinians, who threw rocks and shot fireworks at troops, according to police and video from the scene.
Clashes resumed on Monday as forces appeared to focus efforts to locate Tamimi in the Shuafat area.
Saturday’s shooting came amid a surge in violence in the West Bank.
Israel has been carrying out nightly arrest raids across the West Bank since a spate of terror attacks against Israelis in the spring killed 19 people.
Israeli fire has killed more than 100 Palestinians during that time, making it the deadliest year in the territory since 2015. The Israeli military says the vast majority of those killed were members of terror groups or rioters who endangered soldiers.
Palestinian gunmen in recent months have targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.
In arrest raids across the West Bank early Tuesday, 10 wanted Palestinians were arrested and several firearms were seized, the IDF said.