Israelis young and old were saddened Sunday night after learning of the first military casualty of the now-nine day old offensive against Hamas targets in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip.

Citing a statement from the Israel Defense Force, Army radio and local newspapers reported late Sunday the death of Staff Sgt. Dvir Emanueloff, 22, after a mortar attack outside of Jabalaya in northern Gaza.

One other elite soldier was critically wounded in the morning attack, which came hours after ground forces crossed the border, facing heavy resistance from entrenched Hamas forces. Twenty-eight others were lightly wounded and evacuated to hospitals in Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva.

Rabbi Chaim Bachar, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Givat Ze’ev, in Emanueloff’s home town said that the soldier’s funeral procession departed at 10:15 at night for a burial on Jerusalem’s Har Hertzl.

“My wife taught him music when he was a boy,” said Bachar. “He was a quiet and sweet boy.

“I remember him as a teenager with a lot of friends,” he added. “He was in a group of friends who really loved serving in the army.”

Continuing the work they’ve been doing with soldiers since the conflict began, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries spent much of Sunday visiting with the wounded and their families, as well as other soldiers serving on the front lines.

“There are no words one can say. It is very difficult to speak,” said a pained Rabbi Menachem Kutner, director of Chabad’s Terror Victims Project, after the passing of Emanueloff. “Please G‑d, his family will pull through. The sacrifice they gave is a sacrifice on behalf of the entire Jewish people. Their pain is the pain of every Jew, in Israel and everywhere in the world.”

For his part, Kutner urged everyone to pray for the speedy recovery of all the soldiers, as well as the civilians injured in days of Palestinian rocket attacks.

Said the rabbi: “With G‑d’s help, the Land of Israel will see true peace, speedily in our days.”