Undercover Soldier Dies of Wounds After Gaza Shootout with Terrorist

One of the three members of an Israel Defense Force undercover unit who were wounded over the weekend in a shootout with an Arab terrorist died Monday in Beersheba Hospital.

Sgt. Doron Daniel Derzi, 20, was a resident of Jerusalem.

The terrorist who shot him, Osama Mohammad Ali Najar, was shot dead in the operation. He was considered one of the most dangerous terrorists in the administered territories.

Derzi was among the men spearheading the assault on the wanted terrorist, who had been pinpointed by Israeli intelligence and security forces.

Derzi was a member of the undercover Shimshon (Samson) unit that operates in the Gaza Strip disguised as Arabs.

The Duvdevan (Cherry) unit, which has a similar mission, operates in the West Bank.

Another soldier seriously wounded in the attack in the town of Khan Yunis, Cpl. Eyal Shahal, was reported to be in critical condition. A lieutenant was lightly wounded with them while leading the assault.

Derzi was the fourth member of the Shimshon unit killed while on operations in the Gaza Strip this year.

Last month, another member of the unit, Sgt. Baruch Ben-Shimon of Safed, was shot dead in the town of Bani Suheila in the Gaza Strip. One terrorist was killed and seven others captured in that operation. Shortly after, another Shimshon soldier was killed in a road accident in Gaza.

A fourth Shimshon soldier, Ehud Berman of Motza, near Jerusalem, died two months ago as a result of an accident while he was handling his pistol.

A senior officer with the unit said the losses have badly affected the young soldiers in his command. They have been under heavy strains in the past few months as a result of the growing number of clashes with armed terrorists.

According to investigations of the latest incident, Najar had been on the roof of a house when he noticed the men approaching along the street below. He opened fire on them with a Kalachnikov assault rifle.

He then rushed downstairs and took up a position in a corner of a corridor with a clear field of fire toward the front door of the house.

As the Shimshon members burst in, he fired at them, hitting the lead men. Other soldiers returned the fire, shooting him to death.

(JTA correspondent Gil Sedan in Jerusalem contributed to this report.)

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