A soldier killed in a shooting attack Tuesday near the northern West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron was eulogized by Israeli leaders and those that knew him, as security forces hunted for the culprits.
The Israel Defense Forces said the soldier, Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, was seriously hurt and taken by ambulance to Meir Medical Center, where he was later declared dead.
Baruch, a 21-year-old from the central town of Gedera, served in the Givati infantry’s brigade reconnaissance unit.
Tali, a close friend of Baruch’s mother, remembered him as a “magical child full of love, values and generosity.”
“I had the privilege to work with him at a few events and saw how he made children happy. It is impossible to stop the tears and describe the pain.”
A former teacher of Baruch’s told the Walla news site: “Everyone who knew him, loved him.”
“He always volunteered, always was socially active, an excellent student and a magical person.”
President Isaac Herzog said he grieved with Baruch’s family.
“We will keep fighting terror without compromise. I trust and back the Israeli security forces and pray for quieter times,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the gunman involved in the attack a “despicable terrorist” and sent his condolences to Baruch’s family and friends.
“Words can’t express the sorrow and great pain. We will not stop until we put our hands on the murderers,” Lapid said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed that security forces would capture the Palestinian gunman.
“I would like to send my condolences to the family,” Gantz said on Twitter. “The chase continues during these hours. We will put our hands on the terrorist and those who aided him.”
He also vowed Israel’s anti-terror operations in the West Bank would “continue and intensify in order to provide security to the citizens of Israel.”
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev expressed his condolences to Baruch’s family and said Israel was “determined to strike at terror, everywhere, all the time.”
“On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I send condolences from the bottom of my heart to the family of Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch, may his memory be a blessing,” Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The IDF spokesperson announced that Baruch’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the military section of Gedera’s cemetery.
“The IDF shares in the sorrow of the family and will continue to stand by them,” the military said in a statement.
Baruch is the second soldier in a matter of days to be killed amid a spate of shooting attacks in the West Bank.
According to an initial IDF probe of the shooting, a gunman apparently opened fire from a passing vehicle and fled the scene at a high speed. Security camera footage showed the car fleeing the area, passing by a military vehicle, toward the Palestinian town of Deir Sharaf.
The attack came as settlers held a march near the adjacent Palestinian town of Sebastia over a string of recent shootings in the West Bank. The soldier was part of a unit securing the march.
The organizers said the march continued as planned following the shooting, which it said occurred several kilometers away.
An armed Palestinian faction calling itself the Lion’s Den claimed responsibility for the shooting in a statement.
The group — based in Nablus’s old city — was established in recent months by members of various terror groups. Some of its members were apparently previously affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
It has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the northern West Bank in recent weeks, including one targeting another demonstration held by settlers near Nablus.
Amid searches for the alleged gunman, shooting was heard in the Deir Sharaf area.
The West Bank has seen a surge in violence in recent months, particularly in its north. Palestinian gunmen have targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.
In a shooting attack near Jerusalem on Saturday, an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, was killed. The gunman, Udai Tamimi, thought to have fled into the Shuafat refugee camp, was still on the lam Tuesday.
A civilian security guard seriously wounded in the attack remained in a serious and unstable condition, the hospital said in a statement Tuesday morning.
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.
In arrest raids across the West Bank early Tuesday, 10 wanted Palestinians were arrested and several firearms were seized, the IDF said.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.