TEL AVIV (Sep. 17)
American-born Lt. Alexander Singer, one of three Israel Defense Force soldiers killed when their patrol was ambushed by terrorists in the south Lebanon security zone Tuesday night, died while trying to help his commanding officer, Capt. Ishai Ronen Weizman, who was fatally wounded by the first fusillade, the IDF disclosed Thursday.
Singer, who met death on his 25th birthday, will be buried Friday. His funeral was delayed to allow his family time to come to Israel. Funeral services were held Wednesday for Weizman, 22, and the third fatality, Pvt. Camille Oren, 19, who was killed while trying to assist the fallen officers.
Singer, a platoon commander, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1962 and first came to Israel in 1973 with his parents. His father, Dr. Max Singer, a strategic studies expert, brought his family to Israel for a sabbatical study year but they remained for four years.
Alex Singer returned to Israel three years ago, following his younger brother Danny who studied at the Kibbutz Ein Tzurim Ulpan before he was drafted into the army. Alex had completed studies in Sovietology and Judaism at Cornell University and joined the regular army here shortly after his return.
The Tuesday night ambush on the rocky slopes of Mt. Hermon at the eastern end of the security zone inflicted some of the worst casualties suffered by the IDF in its operations in the security zone. In addition to the three dead, four soldiers were wounded, none seriously. The latter included the platoon medical orderly.
HIGH PRAISE FOR THE UNIT
The IDF had unqualified praise for the unit which, with its officers dead and medical aid temporarily unavailable, regrouped and fought off the terrorists until helicopter gunships brought reinforcements and evacuated the dead and wounded. Despite the initial confusion, the soldier in charge of communications managed to radio a call for help.
The terrorists fled, leaving behind one wounded man who was taken prisoner. The IDF said Thursday that an investigation confirmed there was no excessive delay in providing first aid to the wounded and reinforcements for the survivors of the patrol still fighting. The rescue operation was difficult because of the very rugged terrain, the IDF said.
IDF officers investigating the incident attributed the high casualties to “bad luck,” Haaretz military correspondent Zeev Schiff reported Thursday. The wounded terrorist taken prisoner said his force consisted of 12 men, Lebanese and Palestinian members of extreme leftwing organizations trained and supported by Syria.
The size of the IDF patrol was not disclosed. The unit was engaged in a routine search operation when it came under fire from concealed positions at a distance of about 40 meters.