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Aviv Levi, 21, was the first Israeli soldier killed on Gaza border since 2014

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Aviv Levi, 21, of the central Israel city of Petah Tikva was shot and killed by sniper fire on the border with Gaza last week. Levi is the first Israeli soldier killed in fighting on the Gaza border since the 2014 Gaza War known as Operation Protective Edge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement issued on Saturday night, July 14, offered condolences to Levi’s family on the death of the IDF Givati Brigade soldier.

“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,” the statement said.

Levi was the oldest of four siblings. His parents and his two younger siblings were vacationing in Italy when he was killed, the Times of Israel reported. The family requested no media coverage of the funeral that was held on Sunday, July 15. Hundreds of mourners, many soldiers wearing the purple Givati brigade beret, attended the funeral at Segula cemetery in Petah Tikva, according to Ynet.

“It is not easy to eulogize my son. It’s not natural,” said his father, Yaakov, Ynet reported. “You were a ray of shining and smiling sun for us. We loved seeing every moment of you becoming the man that we knew. You were the salt of the earth and paid the ultimate price for your outstanding service.”

“You never avoided any mission, however large or small. You guarded and protected your friends. We are not parting here. You will be with us forever,” Levi’s father said.

In response to the sniper fire that killed Levi, Israel responded with two rounds of heavy airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. The first killed four members of Hamas. The second striking 68 military targets, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Following the heavy bombardment, Hamas announced on Saturday morning that it had agreed to a ceasefire, after pressure from Egypt and the United Nations.



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