Israel Releases Name of Soldier Killed by Gaza Sniper

Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi, who was shot Friday, is the first Israeli soldier to be killed on the Gaza front since 2014 war

Soldier Aviv Levy being evacuated after he was hit by sniper fire on the Gaza border, July 20, 2018.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The soldier who was killed by a sniper on the Gaza border on Friday was identified Saturday as Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi, 20, from Petah Tikva in central Israel.

Levi was killed by sniper fire during operational duty along the Gaza border despite wearing a bullet-proof vest. He was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, where he was pronounced dead.

Levi, who served in the Givati infantry brigade, is the first to be killed on the Gaza front in active duty since a 2014 war in Gaza, an Israeli army spokesman said.

His parents were abroad when they received the news of his death. He leaves behind three brothers, one of them an Israel Defense Forces combatant as well.

Levi's funeral will be held Sunday.

A memorial for Staff Sgt. Aviv Levy, on July 21, 2018
Ofer Vaknin
A memorial for Staff Sgt. Aviv Levy, on July 21, 2018
Ofir Vaknin

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: "I send condolences from the bottom of my heart, for myself and for the citizens of Israel, to the parents and siblings of Aviv Levi... Together with his comrades, Aviv fought with determination and heroism against terror from the Gaza Strip. To our sorrow, this struggle sometimes claims a price that is heavy for us to bear. Our hearts are with the family."

President Reuven Rivlin added: “The loss is unimaginable. We send a comforting embrace to his family and those who loved him at this difficult time. Together will all Israel, we feel your pain.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “Aviv Levi fell in defense of the people, the country and the inhabitants of the Gaza border region.”

The Israeli army carried out extensive attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after the soldier was killed. Four Palestinians were also killed in the exchange. Hamas' armed wing, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, confirmed that three of them were members of the organization.

Three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza during the escalation; two of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome, the anti-rocket defense system. The third rocket fell in an open area near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. No injuries or damage were reported.

The Israeli army said its tanks had hit 68 Hamas targets and had "eliminated about 60 buildings and infrastructures and revoked significant military and command and control capabilities.

Late on Friday the sides announced they have agreed to restore calm in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli official said Hamas had asked for a cease-fire via Egyptian mediators.