An Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously wounded and later died of his wounds in an overnight arrest raids near the West Bank town of Jenin, the army said Wednesday.
Sergeant Yonatan Evron, 20, from Rishon Letzion, was killed in exchanges of fire between soldiers and Palestinian terrorists. He will be laid to rest in the military cemetery in Rishon Letzion at 3.30 p.m.
IDF troops conducted a number of successful raids overnight in the Jenin area where a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist was arrested and transferred for questioning.
Around 3 a.m. troops came under fire as they were making their way out of the village where the suspect was apprehended. Sergeant Evron was seriously wounded and died in a military helicopter before arriving to hospital.
Two other Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested overnight near Ramallah and south of Jenin. Palestinians hurled three explosive devices at troops operating in Ramallah, yet no one was injured and no damage was caused.
Ambitious and modest
As word of the tragedy spread, friends and family rushed to the Evrons’ residence in Rishon Letzion to offer their condolences.
Yonatan grew up in Kenya where his parents served in Israel’s diplomatic mission to Nairobi. At age 14 he returned to Israel where he attended a local school. His friends spoke of a youth who loved the army and who happily registered to preparatory courses ahead of his service in the elite unit Maglan.
His girlfriend for the last three and a half years, Efrat Rout-Levi said “Yonatan was the love of my life. He was everything to me. We understood each other and I was so proud of him. I always told everyone ‘My boyfriend is in the Maglan unit’ and he was always modest.”
A former tutor described him as a youth full of ambition and motivation, “despite all the hardship.”
Terror groups vow revenge
The IDF has conducted a series of targeted assassinations and arrests of Palestinian terror suspects over the last week in response to a suicide bombing in the coastal town of Hadera last Wednesday. Five Israelis were killed in the attack.
The latest targeted assassination took place Tuesday evening when the Air Force fired a missile at a car traveling in the northern Gaza Strip, killing senior al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades terrorist Hassan al-Madhoun, who the IDF says was responsible for the Ashdod bomb suicide bombing in 2004 that killed 10 people.
A senior Hamas terrorist, Fawzi abu-Qara, was also reportedly killed in the strike. The IDF is currently not attempting to target Hamas members, army sources said, noting Qara was only killed because he happened to travel in al-Madhoun’s vehicle.
Hamas has vowed to avenge the killing of abu-Qara. A statement issued by the terror group’s military wing Izz el-Din el-Qassam read, “We will not reply by shaking hands, our response to this crime will be appropriate in terms of scale, time and place. There is no place to speak about calm under the threat of occupation.”
Sami Abu-Zohari, a Hamas spokesperson, said that Israel will be responsible for the response to “this crime.” He added that Palestinian terror factions are ready to confront the latest escalation in violence by Israel.
“We demand the Palestinian Authority supports the resistance and refrain from criticizing the various factions,” Abu-Zohari said in a clear appeal to the PA which has been pressing Hamas to halt violent activities against Israel.
Fatah’s military wing, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, also vowed to avenge the killing of their senior terrorist Hassan al-Madhoun who was killed in Tuesday’s strike with Abu-Qara.
Al-Aqsa Brigades commander Abu Udai told Ynet shortly after the strike that the latest IDF assassination puts an end to intra-Palestinian understandings to end Gaza-based attacks.
“With this assassination Israel thinks it will eliminate Palestinian resistance…but the Israelis must understand these killings only boost us and now they must wait for a harsh response,” he said.
Ali Waked and Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report