JERUSALEM, Israel – An uneasy quiet has returned to Israel's southern border following the first fatality of an Israeli soldier in the battle against Gaza terrorists since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Israel launched strikes against 60 Hamas targets, including three Hamas headquarters buildings in Gaza Friday, after a Hamas sniper shot and killed 20-year-old Staff Sergeant Aviv Levi.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Levi was just three months from being released from the army. He died two weeks before his 21st birthday. His family was in Italy when they learned of his death. He was buried Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with senior IDF officers at the site where Levi was shot, Arutz Sheva quoted Israel's Channel 2 news.
The report said the terrorist used an Iranian-made replica of the powerful "Steyr," a sniper rifle manufactured in Austria. The report further stated the IDF is aware that Hamas possesses rifles capable of penetrating the protective vest Levi was wearing. The heavier-duty vest weighs a lot more and is reserved for special units. The extra weight and the belief that Hamas wouldn't be using that weapon cost the soldier his life.
Levi's death came just before Israelis began the fasting and mourning period this weekend for the commemoration of Tisha B'Av (the 9th of the Jewish month of Av) when major tragedies have befallen the Jewish people, including the exile to Babylon, the destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans and the Spanish Inquisition.
In the face of consistent calls for Israeli restraint by leaders at the UN and in Europe, journalist and Holocaust survivor Noah Kleiger, writing in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, suggested the opposite: a sustained military operation against the Gaza terrorists.
Kleiger wrote, "We have restrained ourselves and extinguished the terrorists' fires in the fields of our homes enough."
He added, "There is a limit to how much a person can manage his life according to the whims of terrorists. One morning they announce a ceasefire, another morning they send terrorists to the perimeter fence. There is no end to it."
"Only a comprehensive attack on the Gaza Strip, one that will destroy most of the infrastructure of this terrorist organization, will ensure quiet for a long time," he concluded.