A twenty-year-old IDF soldier has died from wounds sustained during an arrest operation last Thursday in the West Bank.
Elite IDF Soldier Killed in West Bank
The young Sergeant Ronen Lubarsky was a member of the elite Duvdevan commando unit and from central Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post. JPost also reported that the fatal incident occurred as Lubarsky and his unit carried out a raid against a terrorist cell in the West Bank that was allegedly responsible for recent attacks. During this raid, a large slab of marble was thrown from three stories up and hit Lubarsky as he stood outside a building. The impact destroyed his helmet and left him with extensive injuries.
Lubarsky was given medical care in the field and immediately transferred to a hospital, but succumbed to his injuries on Saturday, according to an IDF statement. The IDF Twitter page also announced that they posthumously promoted him to staff sergeant.
Immediately after the incident, several suspects were taken into custody, but the military is still looking for the suspect they believe threw the slab. Large numbers of troops are taking part in the search for the suspect in the al-Am’ari refugee camp where the incident occurred. The subsequent raids are resulting in clashes with Palestinians, according to JPost.
Palestinian media reports that three Palestinians were wounded in these West Bank clashes on Monday and that after making several arrests, the IDF withdrew from the area.
Israeli politicians and leaders poured out condolences to Lubarsky’s family and committed to bringing the terrorist who killed him to justice. Staff Sergeant Lubarsky was buried on Mount Herzl on Sunday.
Has Israel Defeated Iran in Syria?
Israel’s display of force against Iranian targets in Syria seems to have given Russia enough reason to hold back Iran from an all-out war with Israel that would throw the region, and Russian interests, into further chaos.
In the last several weeks Israel and Iran have traded blows in a series of escalating strikes - mostly Israel striking Iran in Syria - that have come closer to an open war between Israel and Iran than ever before.
The building tension and very real buildup of military action may have just fizzled out after a surprising announcement this weekend that Syria is banning Iran from using its hangars. Additionally, Russia declared that they are in agreement with Syria to keep Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy militia, and any other Iranian elements, away from the Israeli border.
Since the start of the Syrian civil war, Iran, a strong ally of Syria, has been integrating its military forces in the form of advisors, militias, and special units into Syria to help in the fight against the Islamic State and other rebel groups. In the past months, Iran has shifted its targets to Israel in a way they’ve never been able to do in the past. Now, hosted by Syria, they were able to establish a strong military infrastructure just north of Israel. The Israeli stance has always been clear—Iran must not be allowed to be a threat to Israel in Syria.
Israel frequently destroyed Iranian targets in Syria but kept the death count low and reserved the target list. Not long ago, however, Iranian forces launched a missile barrage at Israel triggering a 70-some-target airstrike that effectively destroyed Iranian military capability in Syria, according to the IDF. Here’s where player number three joins the game.
This weekend’s developments largely involve Russia, the most powerful ally of both Syria and Iran. Both of those states rely so heavily on Russia for military and energy support that Russia has a strong influence on all strategy.
What does this mean in tangible terms? To start, Syria guarantees the retreat of Hezbollah and Iranian forces to twenty-five kilometers away from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights, according to Ha’aretz.
Additionally, Israel and Russia announced they will be meeting soon to discuss the situation in Syria, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.
Gaza Border Violence Continues
A week after the Gaza border protests were scheduled to end on Nakba Day with the “great march of return,” the riots are showing no signs of respite as eighty-six more were wounded over the weekend.
This last weekend, like so many before it, saw violent clashes as protesters, rioters, and Hamas members attempted to breach the border fence. The IDF approximated that 5,000 participated in the latest round of demonstrations. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry estimated that eighty-six Palestinians were wounded, most of them from tear gas inhalation and others from Israeli bullets.
The death toll stands at approximately 110 since the protests began.
The IDF published a video of a group of men who breached the fence just long enough to cross over, throw a firebomb and set up a small tent before returning to Gaza. Additionally, on Sunday an improvised explosive device was planted at the fence and was safely detonated by the IDF. In response to the above, the IDF carried out strikes from jets and tanks at Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza continue to take military action against Israel. On Monday, heavy machine-gun fire out of Gaza hit the Israel town of Sderot. No injuries were reported, but there was damage to structures, according to Ha’aretz. Two Palestinians also breached the border on Monday but were intercepted by Israeli security forces who then came under gunfire as they pursued the intruders. The IDF said they were crossing to commit a terrorist act and replied with tank shelling.
Israel blames Hamas for continuing to push people to the fence to riot and attempt to cross to keep the protests, and therefore the international attention, active.