by: Kate Norman
Thursday, 13 January 2022 | Mistaken identity led to friendly fire outside an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base in the Jordan Valley last night, resulting in the tragic deaths of two soldiers.
Majors Ofek Aharon, 28, and Itamar Elharar, 26, were killed after the deadly exchange of fire last night.
The two officers of the elite Egoz unit were patrolling the Nabi Musa base in the Jordan Valley around 11 p.m., just after their unit had just finished a drill. They reportedly saw what they thought was a suspicious figure and shouted for the figure, who turned out to be a fellow IDF soldier, to halt and fired into the air.
Another soldier nearby heard the shooting, and, assuming it was an attack, opened fire on the pair, fatally wounding both.
They were given immediate medical treatment and then transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital outside of Jerusalem, but by the time they arrived, they were both pronounced dead.
This tragic incident occurred the night after someone had broken into their base and stolen military equipment. It is reportedly a common enough problem on IDF bases, so to prevent similar occurrences, the military had just issued an order allowing soldiers to use lethal force against thieves.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi traveled to the base this morning to open an investigation into the incident and ensure it does not happen again.
“This is a very sad morning,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
“I would like to send heartfelt condolences to the families of the two officers who were killed overnight in a tragic accident,” Bennett continued. “The two commanders had dedicated their best years to the security of Israel and defending our homeland. The entire people of Israel mourns for them.”
“The IDF is investigating the difficult incident and the necessary lessons will be learned,” the prime minister concluded.
The officer who mistakenly killed the two soldiers will be treated with compassion, IDF Spokesman Ran Kochav said.
“We will need to embrace the officer, to take care of him, to show that we are protecting him,” Kochav said. “He, of course, did this accidentally, resulting in the deaths of his friends.”
Today the nation of Israel mourns the lives of two soldiers tragically lost. Both men left behind family and loved ones. Major Elharar had been married for just one year.
“The IDF is in the midst of a comprehensive investigation, and we will do everything to ensure that a tragedy like this does not repeat itself,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed in a statement.
Posted on January 13, 2022
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 13, 2022)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
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