Omer Balva was a 22-year-old staff sergeant and platoon commander in the 9203 battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade in the Israeli Defense Force.
He was a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen from Maryland and was one of over 300,000 reservists summoned by the Israel Defense Forces after declaring war on Hamas following the militant group’s rocket attacks on Israel.
Balva was killed by anti-tank missile fire at the northern border of Israel near Lebanon.
According to New York Post, he grew up in Rockville, Maryland, where he attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day school.
Balva enlisted in the IDF after moving to Israel in 2019 but had been in the US visiting a childhood friend when he was called up for reserve duty earlier this month.
He was also a student at Reichman University in Herzliya, Israel, where he was working toward a Bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics, the university said while announcing his death.
What is happening at the northern border of Israel near Lebanon?
Tensions have been escalating at the northern border of Israel near Lebanon, and the situation has led to the evacuation of several Israeli villages.
The border has been a longtime staging ground for attacks by Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese group.
The Israeli authorities have announced that they will evacuate 14 more Israeli villages near the northern border with Lebanon amid escalating clashes with fighters from Hezbollah.
The area around the Lebanese town of Hula, opposite Israel’s Kiryat Shmona, has been a particular focus for strikes and counter-strikes in recent days.
As of Saturday, Hezbollah said 19 of its fighters had been killed in the border flare-up since October 7.
The escalation comes amid fears that the war could spread into Lebanon, where Hezbollah has expressed strong support for the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
Israel considers the heavily-armed group in Lebanon an even bigger threat than Hamas.
So far, artillery exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel have been limited to several towns along the border.
Israel has threatened that if Hezbollah opens a new front, all of Lebanon will suffer the consequences.
The situation has led to more than 19,000 people being internally displaced in Lebanon since early October, according to the United Nations migration agency.
What is the current situation in Israel and Gaza?
On October 7, 2023, Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking at least 200 hostages.
The situation has escalated into a full-blown war between Israel and Hamas, with both sides launching attacks on each other.
Israeli jets have launched airstrikes on Gaza, destroying centers that house Hamas militants, while Palestinian officials have reported that a hospital, multistory buildings, homes, and a mosque have been hit.
The US still does not know the condition of the Americans believed to be held hostage by Hamas, but two Americans were released by Hamas on October 22.
The situation in Israel is dire, with Gaza’s largest hospital facing a fuel shortage that could turn it into a “mass grave” if it runs out of fuel.
Longer and more frequent power cuts are also affecting the maternity and neonatal units, the largest in Gaza, as over 15 incubators will “cease to function” once the power runs out.
The shortages are also impacting ambulance services, which require petrol to reach and bring in the wounded.
Omer Balva cause of death
As mentioned above, Balva was killed by anti-tank missile fire at the northern border of Israel near Lebanon.
He was a staff sergeant and platoon commander in the 9203 battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade in the Israeli Defense Force.
Balva was one of over 300,000 reservists summoned by IDF after declaring war on Hamas.