Barel Hadaria Shmueli, the 21-year-old Israeli soldier who was critically wounded by live gunfire during violent clashes along the Gaza border nine days ago, succumbed to his wounds on Monday.
Shortly after Shmueli's death was announced, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that he received the "bitter news with deep sorrow" and that there "are not enough words to comfort the family in deep mourning." The premier described Border Police officer Shmueli as a "warrior in life and a warrior in death," as someone who "fought for his life until the last moment, while the entire nation of Israel prayed for him."
Israel's President Isaac Herzog extended condolences to Shmueli's family on Monday afternoon, tweeting that the news of Shmueli's passing is "very sad and painful," and that he and his wife Michal "embrace the family and share in the heavy grief over the passing of their dear and beloved son." noted that he had been in "constant contact" with Shmueli's mother Nitza over the past week, offering prayers for his recovery, together with the rest of Israel. In keeping with Jewish tradition, the president ended his tweet with "May his memory be a blessing."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to extend heartfelt condolences to Shmueli's family on behalf of Israel's defense establishment, describing Shmueli as one of the country's "best sons," who died defending his homeland and South Israel's residents. Gantz noted that he had gone to visit Shmueli at the hospital a few days ago, where he prayed in his heart for Shmueli's recovery, but ultimately "the tough news came and with it great pain."
Interior Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said Monday afternoon that his "heart was broken" by the news of Shmueli's death, and extended his condolences to the grieving family, the Border Police and the Israel police for the loss of a "fighter and special man who fought for nine days in the face of the critical wounds he sustained at the hands of a terrorist in the Gaza Strip."
"The Border Police bow their heads in [his] memory," the Israel Police said in a statement that highlighted Shmueli's tenure and contributions to the Border Police, since enlisting in March 2019. During his service in the unit, Shmueli served as a sniper in the unit, having successfully completed the sniper's training course, and was involved in dozens of counter-terrorism activities as well as crime-fighting operations in the south, said the statement.
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Shmueli is survived by his parents, two sisters and a brother. He was a resident of Be'er Ya'akov in central Israel.
Shmueli had been hit through a slit in the border fence and was evacuated by helicopter to the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheba. Shmueli sustained a severe head injury and underwent surgery shortly after arriving at the hospital, according to the hospital's deputy director. Following the surgery, he had been moved to an intensive care unit where he was breathing with the help of a ventilator, and was in critical condition, the spokesperson for Soroka Medical Center had said.
Footage of the incident shows Palestinian protesters approaching the border fence, throwing rocks at the officer, with one of them shooting through the slit.