IDF officer shot, seriously wounded in training accident

Ironically, the soldier who was shot was the safety officer for the training exercise.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior IDF officer who was shot and seriously wounded during a training exercise appears to have mistakenly walked into the line of fire, a preliminary investigation revealed Thursday.

The lieutenant colonel at the Tze’elim base in the Negev Desert was supervising a training exercise simulating combat in a built-up area, Channel 12 reported.

The exercise was being carried out Wednesday as part of a battalion commanders course during which one group of soldiers was acting as a covering force with heavy weapons at a distance while a second group was the attacking force.

During the exercise, an order was given for one group to cross the compound and the officer apparently entered into the line of fire of the other force.

Ironically, the soldier who was shot was the safety officer for the training exercise.

The head of training in the IDF, Maj. Gen. Moti Baruch, ordered an immediate halt to all training exercises at the base until the incident investigation by military police was completed.

The officer was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in nearby Beer Sheva, where he underwent complex surgery overnight for a severe gunshot wound to his abdomen and was reported to be in stable condition, conscious and breathing on his own.

The shooting happened a day after an IDF military jeep on the sprawling training base was ambushed by a group of Bedouin vehicles after the soldiers apparently interrupted an attempted theft of army equipment. No injuries were reported in the incident during which one soldier fired his weapon in the air as a warning. Several Bedouin were later arrested.

Over the years there have been numerous fatalities during training accidents at the Tze’elim base. The two worst incidents were in 1990, when five reserve soldiers were killed and 10 injured by an artillery shell, and the 1992 disaster in which five members of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando force died when a live missile was fired by mistake during a drill.

Then-IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak was overseeing the exercise but was unhurt. Barak went on to become prime minister when he defeated Benjamin Netanyahu in the 1999 national election.