IDF retaliates after soldier, 21, killed by sniper fire from Gaza; shaky ceasefire holds

A tense ceasefire held on the Gaza border Saturday following several waves of Israeli strikes on Hamas targets in the Strip in retaliation for the death of a soldier shot by sniper fire.

By: TPS and World Israel News Staff

Staff Sergeant Aviv Levi was killed while on patrol with the Givati Battalion on the southern border of the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon, leading to the largest wave of attacks by Israel since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

“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, an IDF Givati Brigade fighter who fell yesterday on the Gaza border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Saturday evening.

“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.”

In total, the IDF hit some 60 targets over several hours from Friday afternoon until the early hours of Saturday morning when, according to diplomatic sources, Hamas pushed for a ceasefire via Egyptian mediators.

The IDF said it had struck three Hamas battalion compounds, weapon manufacturing sites, a shaft to a tunnel network, a factory used for underground infrastructure manufacturing, a UAV warehouse, military operations room, training facilities, and observation posts.

Following the incident Friday, in which Levi was killed, IDF aircraft and tanks attacked eight Hamas military posts. Hamas responded with rocket fire at the Sha’ar Ha’Negev And Sdot Negev regions; the IDF said the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted two rockets.

While the ceasefire has largely held, on Saturday a number of suspects infiltrated Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF said the suspects had returned to the Strip and that a tank targeted a Hamas military post in response.