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For the first time since November, an IDF soldier was killed in action in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, during a hunt for weapons and terrorists. He was identified as St.-Sgt. Arbel Reich, 21, of the Givati Brigade's Reconnaissance Battalion.
He will be laid to rest at 11 a.m. on Friday in the Misgav Cemetery in the Galilee.
Two other soldiers were lightly wounded during the operation and were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. The IDF has killed more than 30 terrorists inside Gaza over the past month.
Later on Thursday, the IDF thwarted a suicide bombing when troops killed a Palestinian who was wearing an explosives belt and had opened fire at a military roadblock near Tulkarm in Samaria.
In the Gaza operation, some 10 tanks, two bulldozers and dozens of soldiers backed by helicopters moved before dawn about a kilometer into agricultural fields near the Bureij refugee camp. An Islamic Jihad cell was spotted and an IAF aircraft fired a missile, killing five terrorists.
Hamas said its gunmen then detonated two large mines next to the soldiers, killing Reich and wounding the two others.
Reich, who is survived by his parents and two sisters, was the first IDF soldier to be killed in action in Gaza since St.-Sgt. Kiril Golenshin, 21, from the elite Oketz canine unit, was killed in a firefight on November 1 in Beit Hanun, in the Strip's north.
During Thursday's operation, Islamic Jihad fired a Kassam rocket that hit near Sderot without causing any injuries. Soldiers interrogated dozens of Palestinians during the operation in search of wanted terrorist suspects.