An Israeli reserve soldier with dual American citizenship was killed Thursday by an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon, according to Israel Defense Forces.
The soldier was identified as Staff Sgt. Omer Balva, 22, from Herzliya, Israeli media reported. He was a commander in the 9203rd Battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade.
Balva was born to Israeli parents but grew up in Rockville, Maryland, where he attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish day school, the Times of Israel reported.
He was one of some 360,000 Israeli reservists called into action after the Islamic group Hamas infiltrated Israel on October 7, brutally murdering at least 1,400 Israeli civilians and taking an estimated 210 people captive back to Gaza.
Balva was in the United States last week when he was called into reserve service. He promptly flew back to Israel to report for duty, the report said.
Skirmishes along the Israeli-Lebanon border between Israeli troops and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah have become more frequent in recent days as concerns are escalating of a second front emerging in Israel’s war with Hamas.
Israel Defense Forces traded fire with Hezbollah terrorists on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon on Saturday, after terrorists fired anti-tank missiles into Israeli territory overnight.
The Israeli military said an anti-tank guided missile was fired from Lebanon into the Margaliot area in northern Israel. IDF responded with a drone strike against the terrorist squad.
Additionally, another missile was launched from Lebanon targeting the Hanita area, IDF said. Israeli troops responded with artillery fire that struck missile launchers on the Lebanese side of the border, according to IDF.
“The IDF is ready for all scenarios in the various sectors and will continue to act for the security of Israeli citizens,” a military spokesperson said.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Saturday that Hezbollah terrorists have been paying a “heavy price” for their attacks on Israeli military outposts since the war with Hamas began on Oct. 7.
“Hezbollah has decided to participate in the fighting, we are exacting a heavy price from it,” Gallant told troops with the 91st territorial division base, at the Biranit camp on the Lebanon border, according to the Times of Israel.
“I assume that the challenges will be greater [than they are now], and you have to take this into account, to be ready like a [coiled] spring for any situation,” he added.
At least 5,700 people have been killed in the war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, including at least 32 American civilians. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims at least 4,385 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and the West Bank and more than 13,561 wounded by Israeli retaliatory strikes. At least 10 Americans are feared to be held captive by Hamas.