A Golani soldier was killed early Tuesday morning when a large rock was thrown on his head during a pre-dawn arrest operation in Yabed, an Arab village west of Jenin in the Shomron.
The soldier has been identified as Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal, 21, a resident of Ramat Gan. He is the first IDF soldier to be killed in 2020.
The Golani Reconnaissance Battalion was carrying out an arrest operation in the Palestinian Authority village of Yabed, which the IDF termed as a “hostile village which specializes in throwing stones at the intersection leading to Mevo Dotan. Two suspects were arrested for stone-throwing and two were arrested for terror activities.”
As the soldiers were leaving the village on foot following the operation, a group of 10 Arabs began throwing rocks at them. The IDF spokesperson said that the rock that killed Ben-Yigal was thrown from the roofs of one of the last houses in the village. Although Ben-Yigal was wearing a helmet, the large rock struck him at an angle, fatally wounding him.
Ben-Yigal was treated at the scene by IDF medics and was evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where the doctors pronounced his death.
The IDF posthumously promoted Ben-Yigal to the rank of Sgt. First Class.
Ben-Yigal was an only child and his father, Baruch Ben-Yigal, said that his son had begged him to sign a permission slip to allow him to join a combat unit [only sons cannot join a combat unit without explicit parental approval].
“A tragedy has fallen on my head,” the father said. “He’s my only child and he insisted on serving in Golani [combat unit]. He was my whole world. I don’t know how I’ll go on. My whole life revolved around him. I lost my only child.”
“Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Yigal fell tonight as he was protecting the security of Israel,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said. “The IDF and security forces will capture the lowly terrorists responsible for this and bring them to account. In the name of the security establishment, I wish to send my condolences to the dear Ben-Yigal family. Yehi Zichro Baruch.”
“Our forces are operating [in Yabed] and carrying out arrests in the house from which the stone was thrown,” the IDF spokesperson stated.
Two years ago, IDF soldier Ronen Lubarsky was killed in a similar fashion when he was hit on the head by a marble slab thrown on him from the third floor of a building in Ramallah during an IDF Duvdevani operation.
The Arab who threw the slab, Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, was convicted of murder last April.
בשמי ובשם אזרחי ישראל אני מבקש לשלוח תנחומים כנים למשפחתו של עמית בן יגאל שנרצח הלילה בפעילות מבצעית ע"י בן עוולה. יהי זכרו ברוך.
כפי שקרה בכל המקרים בשנים האחרונות – ידה הארוכה של ישראל תגיע למחבל ותבוא עמו חשבון. pic.twitter.com/C0TyfUOS0i
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 12, 2020
דובר צה"ל מוסר את שמו של לוחם צה"ל, סמל-ראשון עמית בן יגאל ז"ל, לוחם בסיירת "גולני", בן 21 מרמת גן. סמל-ראשון עמית בן יגאל ז"ל נפל הבוקר (ג'), י"ח באייר תש"ף, 12 במאי 2020, כתוצאה מהשלכת אבן על ראשו במהלך פעילות מבצעית למעצר חשודים בכפר יעבד שבמרחב החטיבה המרחבית "מנשה" pic.twitter.com/n0V5CJPT6Z
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) May 12, 2020
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)