Palestinian Suspected of Killing Soldier With Marble Slab Arrested, Shin Bet Says

Ronen Lubarsky, 20, sustained critical head injuries when a heavy stone slab was dropped on him from a building

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the al-Am’ari refugee camp, West Bank, May 21, 2018.
Screenshot / Israel Television News Company

A Palestinian man was arrested Wednesday for his role in the death of an Israeli soldier from the elite unit Duvdevan at the end of May, Israel's security service said.

Ronen Lubarsky, 21, died of his wounds, May 26, 2018.
Screenshot from Lubarsky's Facebook page.

Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, a 32-year-old resident of a refugee camp near Ramallah, was arrested as part of a joint operation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces after intelligence information suggested he threw the marble slab that led to the death of Ronen Lubarsky on May 24, the statement said.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Abu Hamid's brother, the Shin Bet said, was a Hamas terrorist who was involved in a number of attacks. Some of the investigation's details are still under gag. 

Lubarsky, 20, from the central Israeli city of Rehovot, was critically injured when a heavy stone slab was thrown from the third floor of a building during arrests at the al-Am’ari refugee camp. The army unit was unable to pursue the attacker as they could not identify who had thrown the slab.

The military said the raid targeted members of a cell involved in recent shooting attacks against Israelis. Three Palestinian suspects were taken to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. 

The first set of Israeli forces that arrived at the site for the raid was undercover and surrounded the building where the wanted men were located. A larger force of the Duvdevan unit equipped with full protective gear arrived afterwards, including Lubarsky.

Lubarsky's death brings the amount of fallen Duvdevan soldiers to 18 since the unit was established in 1986. Most of the fallen soldiers were killed in training accidents or as a result of friendly fire during an operation – none of them were killed by enemy fire.

"We will learn and draw lessons from this event," the IDF spokesperson, Ronen Manlis, said after the incident. "During the Ramadan period there has been an increase in the number of attacks, and attempts to carry them out. This falls within the framework of the operation in the refugee camp," he concluded. 

Arik Lubarsky, Ronen’s brother, eulogized him: “My dear brother, how have we reached this strange situation, tell me? You were so modest. Everyone is talking about you, everyone loves you, what a hero you are, how you are the best.”

He added: “Unfortunately, IDF soldiers deal with the threats you overcame every day, every night. .. Wild animals were waiting for you on the rooftops. I pray to God that our leaders, who I love, will do something about it.”

A., the commander of Duvdevan, also spoke. He said Lubarsky was taught the value of contributing to his country, a member of a family of fighters, the salt of the earth. “During the hours we prayed at your bedside in the hospital, your mother pointed to the members of the family and said: ‘Combat soldiers every one, but Ronen was the best.’ Your mother was right. You were one of the best soldiers in the unit.” A. said Lubarsky participated in a great number of operations to capture terrorists and stood at the IDF’s “spearhead against terrorism,” and “fell as a hero in an operation to defend the citizens of Israel Rest in peace. We are proud of your acts, pained and salute you.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed sorrow over the news of Lubarsky's death. "I send heartfelt condolences to his family," Netanyahu said Saturday evening. "The security forces will catch the terrorist and the State of Israel will bring him to justice."