A soldier killed in a shooting attack at a checkpoint near Jerusalem Saturday night was eulogized by friends and family Sunday, as her slaying cast a pall over the start of the Sukkot holiday in Israel.
Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, a member of the Military Police’s Erez battalion, was shot late Saturday along with a civilian guard when a gunman opened fire at a checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem on Saturday night.
“She was a wonderful girl, bright, smiling, funny, beautiful and so friendly,” recalled Lihi Avizohar, who knew Lazar from Scouts youth group activities in her hometown of Bat Hefer, near the coastal city of Netanya.
A funeral for Lazar was scheduled for 11 p.m. on Monday night in the nearby Kfar Yona Cemetery, due to Sunday night and Monday being the start of the Sukkot holiday.
Lazar’s grandparents, who were in Italy on vacation, were making their way back to Israel for the funeral, the Ynet news site reported.
Friends and acquaintances of Lazar remembered the fallen soldier after waking up to the news of her death on Sunday morning.
“My little treasure, I can’t digest that you have left me like this,” wrote one of her comrades.
Another friend wrote: “My beautiful angel, I can’t believe that I am writing this. I love you. You are my dearest partner, and my heart is crushed into a thousand pieces.”
Emek Hefer Regional Council head Galit Shaul commented on the “painful and difficult morning for Emek Hefer” and offered her support to Lazar’s family and friends.
Lazar was declared dead after being rushed to the hospital following the attack, in which the gunman appeared to open fire on a group of soldiers from nearly point-blank range.
The guard wounded in the attack, whose name has not been published, remained in serious condition Sunday after being operated on overnight, Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem said.
Two Border Police officers were lightly injured by shrapnel in the shooting.
Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman said the identity of the gunman and two suspected accomplices was known to police. Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who arrived on the scene following the shooting, described the shooter as a 22-year-old resident of Shuafat.
Video released Sunday appeared to show the gunman casually getting out of a white vehicle at the checkpoint and walking over to a group of soldiers and guards. He then opens fire from point-blank range with a handgun, hitting two of them as the others dive for cover. The gunman continued to shoot at one person on the ground before fleeing, apparently after his gun jammed.
Security forces raided the Shuafat refugee camp after the attack in search of the shooter and two other suspects. Special forces and a helicopter took part in the manhunt. Three suspected accomplices were arrested in other areas of East Jerusalem, police said, and members of the shooter’s family were detained, according to Army Radio.
“We will not be quiet and know no rest until we bring justice to the depraved terrorist,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel’s anti-terror offensive would continue at full strength following the attack.
“We will get our hands on the abominable terrorist and on all those who assisted him,” he said.
President Isaac Herzog also issued condolences, saying that the killing had turned “the joy of the holiday turned into terrible grief” for Lazar’s family.
“No despicable terrorist will break our spirit. We will fight terrorism and continue to build our lives and celebrate our holidays. We trust the IDF and the security forces,” he said.
The incident came as military and police were on heightened alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the Jewish holiday season. On Saturday, Lapid held a security assessment “with an emphasis on the deployment of forces in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, as well as elsewhere across the country.”
Barlev said security officials could huddle again on Monday night to discuss extending a closure of West Bank checkpoints to Palestinians beyond the first and last days of the holiday.
“There have been many more terror warnings over the holidays, more than normal, but until now we had managed to deal with them,” he told Army Radio Sunday.
Tensions have been heightened due to an ongoing anti-terror campaign in the West Bank that has seen over 100 Palestinians killed and more than 2,000 arrested in nightly raids, during which Israeli troops have regularly been targeted by gunfire. Most of those killed were gunmen or participants in violent clashes, but some were unarmed civilians.
The operation was launched after a series of attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.
The Gaza-based Hamas terror group said it “blessed the heroic operation,” calling the shooting “a reaction to the incursions into Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and the aggression by the occupation today against Jenin.” Earlier Saturday, two Palestinians were killed during an arrest operation by the IDF in Jenin, a city in the West Bank.
Celebratory fireworks were reported in Shuafat after the shooting.