The IDF began an investigation into the possibility that Sgt. First Class David Yehuda Yitzhak, 23, from the West Bank settlement of Beit El, who was killed in Jenin overnight Wednesday as the counterterrorism operation in the refugee camp was winding down, was a victim of a friendly-fire mishap.
He received emergency treatment on the ground and was airlifted to HaEmek Medical Center in Afula where he was declared dead. He will be laid to rest at 4 pm Wednesday in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
The withdrawal of all security forces from the refugee camp and the city of Jenin was completed by 2 am, marking the official conclusion of the operation. According to the IDF, at least 18 terrorists were killed during the operation. In the coming days, Egoz will maintain open attack cells (for aerial strikes) in order to be prepared for any contingency.
Shai Alon, the head of the Beit El local council, said “The people of Beit El mourn the loss of David Yehuda Yitzhak during operational activity in Jenin. An Egoz combat soldier, the firstborn son of Moshe and Emouna, and a brother to six siblings. Our hearts go out to his grieving family in this tragic news. ‘Rejoice, you nations, with His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will make expiation for His land and His people’."
Yitzhak was a graduate of a yeshiva in Jerusalem, and later studied at the Meir Institute before attending the pre-military academy. "We mourn the loss of the soldier David Yehuda Yitzhak, a hero of Israel," said Shlomo Ne'eman, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council and chairman of the Yesha Council. "David grew up and resided in Beit El and was an esteemed soldier in the elite Egoz unit. We share in the profound grief and embrace his family, relatives and the community of Beit El residents."
Meanwhile, an Israeli Air Force airstrike targeted a group of terrorists near the cemetery in Jenin. The Palestinian health ministry reported one fatality and additional injuries in the attack.
An IDF spokesperson stated, "The IDF struck an armed group that posed a threat to security forces during their exit from the Jenin refugee camp. This is further evidence of the exploitation of civilian sites throughout the city and the refugee camp by terrorist elements."
Earlier Tuesday, intense exchanges of fire were recorded between IDF forces and terrorists. Footage of the shootout between terrorists from the Jenin Division and IDF forces was shared by Palestinians on social media.
Other footage showed terrorists waiting for the arrival of forces with Molotov cocktails. Members of the Jenin Division claimed that explosive charges were activated against forces "attempting to penetrate the camp from more than one route."
During the operation, security forces seized thousands of weapons in the Jenin refugee camp and the city of Jenin, including explosives, ammunition, firearms and explosives laboratories.
The IDF, Shin Bet and the Border Police reported that "over 300 suspects were investigated, and 30 of them were arrested. The forces located and destroyed 14 safehouses and war rooms used for terrorism, six explosives laboratories containing over 300 explosive devices, materials for manufacturing explosives, and additional ammunition.”
The statement further mentioned, "Ten IEDs were seized, along with 24 M16 rifles, eight handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in terrorist funds were confiscated, along with dozens of kilograms of chemical substances for bomb-making. Six underground tunnels and two smuggling tunnels containing large amounts of weapons were also discovered."