IDF admits mistakes after three IDF soldiers killed on southern border, officer dismissed

Training failures and hiding knowledge of the gate the terrorist used are two main factors blamed for the tragic incident.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF has admitted mistakes and drawn personal consequences for three senior officers following the June 3 attack on the southern border when a rogue Egyptian policeman killed three soldiers before being eliminated.

One of the main conclusions of the inquiry was that there was an operational failure regarding the half-meter-by-half-meter opening in the border fence that the terrorist used to gain entry. It was intentionally made to be easily opened, so as to facilitate entry for the purpose of repairs or security operations, but its existence was only revealed to senior staff, not to the troops who had a post only 150 meters away.

“The special security passage was viewed by us as a hidden passage… not updating the soldiers on this passage was a systemic failure… that lasted for several years,” said Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano. “We should have understood this, but unfortunately, we didn’t.”

It was also found to be a major error that the border companies are trained mainly to stop drug smuggling attempts, which occur on an almost-daily basis along the Egyptian border, rather than terrorist attacks, which have only been attempted a few times over the last decade.

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The IDF announced that it would now “refine the order of priorities” and increase training for troops regarding direct attacks.

Other mistakes on the border included soldiers hearing gunfire and not reporting it and the policy of 12-hour shifts of duty, something the lower echelons have complained about for a long time but to no avail.

Regarding the hunt for the terrorist, the investigation found that Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, who was killed in the operation, as well as others, were not wearing their helmets when they approached the terrorist’s position. The assailant fatally shot Dahan and wounded another soldier from some 200 meters away.

Some changes were made even before the report was made to IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

The fence was sealed almost immediately, and the guard shifts were shortened to eight hours after the Bardelas Battalion on border duty reportedly refused to stand sentry unless the change was made, saying that they could not perform their duties properly otherwise.

As a result of the investigation, the army has decided to formally censure the Bardelas commander, Lt. Col. Ivan Kon, and freeze promotion for him for five years due to his “responsibility for the implementation of the operating concept in his forces.”

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One slot further up the line, Paran Brigade chief Col. Ido Sa’ad has been removed from his position and will be transferred due to his “overall responsibility for the event and the manner by which operations are carried out in his area.”

Sa’ad was dismissed even though the report said he had properly led the operation that ended with the terrorist’s death.

Finally, the 80th Division commander in charge of Paran and other brigades in the south, Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen, was reprimanded for his “overall responsibility for the event, including the lack of control over the implementation of the procedures.”

‘Incident could and should have been prevented’

The investigation found that while the pair of guards, Sgt. Lia Ben Nun and Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, were not asleep when the Egyptian cut the zip ties holding the fence closed and approached them at around 7 a.m., they did not fire their weapons, meaning that he had completely surprised them.

In reaction to this finding, the IDF said that from now on, four guards will man every station so that each direction will be covered. Having more people at the post would seemingly also increase their alertness.

“We conducted an exhaustive and in-depth investigation,” Halevi said Tuesday. “Along with quality work, initiative and successes, we also found operational and command faults and gaps. We will study them, fix and improve them. This is a difficult incident, which could and should have been prevented, and it is our responsibility as commanders — and mine as commander of the army first and foremost — to learn lessons and be better.”