(photo credit: AP [file])
Paratrooper St.-Sgt. Ben-Zion Henman was killed on Tuesday during heavy clashes with Palestinian gunmen in Nablus.
Henman, 22, from the community of Nov in the southern Golan Heights, sustained a severe wound from a bullet that penetrated the seam of his flak jacket and entered his chest. He died in a helicopter en route to hospital.
Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the shooting.
Henman, who was scheduled to complete his military service with the Paratrooper Brigade's elite Reconnaissance Unit in two weeks, was laid to rest late Tuesday night in the Hispin cemetery. He is survived by his parents and nine siblings.
Despite the death of their comrade, the reconnaissance unit remained inside Nablus throughout the day and continued operating against the local terror infrastructure.
A dog from the elite Oketz canine unit that participated in the operation was also killed by Palestinian gunfire.
The army said troops were involved in exchanges of fire and encountered violent riots as they entered the Ein Bet Ilmeh refugee camp in Nablus, in hot pursuit of terrorists believed to be in the planning stages of terror attacks. As the soldiers fought their way into the camp, a huge D-9 armored bulldozer waited at the entrance, ready to smash obstacles as the army searched for Palestinian gunmen.
The troops entered the camp in two dozen armored jeeps and were met by a volley of rocks and several explosive devices.
A PFLP operative, aged 17, who the IDF said was the gunman who shot Henman, was killed in the exchange of fire. He was identified as Muhammad Ridah Khaled.
"We will follow in your path, Muhammad, until we expel the military occupation and achieve our own state," the group said in a statement. Witnesses claimed that soldiers used a resident as a "human shield" to protect their movements as they searched for suspected terrorists. The IDF said it was looking into the charge.
Troops imposed a curfew in the camp of 5,000 and searched from house to house, witnesses said. Nine Palestinian fugitives were arrested in the West Bank overnight.
Meanwhile Tuesday, another 17-year-old Palestinian was killed by an IDF patrol near the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian medical officials, the youth was shot by troops on the Israeli side of the northern Gaza security fence. The IDF said the youth was in fact an "armed terrorist who opened fire at soldiers patrolling the northern Gaza security fence."
AP contributed to this report.â€¢
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