Runaway Merkava tank crosses highway while crew takes power nap

An Israeli tank crew fell asleep as their vehicle rolled backwards and across a major Israeli highway.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Disaster was narrowly avoided when a tank crew of a Merkava MK IV fell asleep leaving no one in control as the tank rolled down a hill and crossed Israel’s busy Highway 40. The incident, only made public on Tuesday, occurred some time over the last week.

No one was hurt and no damage was reported, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The incident took place during an officer’s training course. The tank’s commanding officer left the crew and told them to wait for him. The handbrake was on, says the IDF.

When he returned 20 minutes later, he discovered that his 70-ton armored ride was no longer where he left it. After a search, it was discovered 600 meters away, on the other side of Highway 40.

It quickly became clear that the tank crew had fallen asleep and the tank had rolled backwards without the crew becoming aware of it.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office reported, “During training which took place as part of a tank officers’ training course in southern Israel, a tank slid down several hundred meters and crossed a road… This is an unusual security incident, which will be investigated with the goal of preventing similar accidents from occurring in the future.”

The Merkava line of tanks has been in service since 1979. Shortly before the start of the 2006 Second Lebanon war, it was announced that the tank would be discontinued after four years. However, after further assessment it was concluded that the Merkava remained a valuable part of Israel’s defense and the decision to resume production was announced in 2013.