Soldier dies of injuries from Gaza mortar


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli soldier injured in a mortar attack on southern Israel has died.

Lt. Boris Yarmulnik, 28, of Netanya, who was critically wounded Wednesday after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, died the following afternoon of his injuries.

Yarmulnik was critically injured and five other soldiers were moderately wounded on the last day of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense against Gaza. His death brings to six the number of Israelis killed during the eight-day operation — four civilians and two soldiers.

A cease-fire went into effect on Wednesday night; some 13 rockets were fired from Gaza after the cease-fire went into effect. Ten landed inside of Gaza.

Schools remained closed on Thursday in communities located up to 25 miles from the Gaza border.

A siren sounded in southern Israel on Thursday morning. The rocket fired from Gaza reportedly landed in Palestinian territory, according to reports.

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday began to discharge from service some of the 50,000 reserve soldiers called up since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense on Nov. 14. They will be discharged throughout the next week.

"We had many major achievements in this operation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, where he met with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Inspector-General Yohanan Danino and other senior Israel Police commanders. "The IDF struck very hard at Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. Many terrorist leaders were killed. We eliminated thousands of missiles that were aimed at the south of the country and almost all of the missiles that were aimed at the center of the country. We operated against the terrorist organizations’ infrastructures, things that were built over the years were demolished."

Netanyahu stressed that Israel was "ready to act should the quiet be violated."

"Now we are giving the cease-fire a chance," he said. "This is the right thing to do for the State of Israel at this time, but we are also prepared for the possibility that the cease-fire will not be upheld, and we will know how to act if need be."

According to the IDF, at least 1,500 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel since the beginning of the operation, with some falling in Gaza territory. Some 421 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The IDF said it struck more than 1,500 terror targets in Gaza, including rocket launching sites, tunnels and terrorist headquarters.

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