The shooting accident in which Major Ofek Aharon and Major Itamar Elharar, two commanders of factions from the Egoz unit, were killed on Tuesday night, is one of the most difficult and unnecessary the IDF has known in recent years. The incident requires a much more in-depth investigation than the circumstances of this tragic event alone.The
initial investigation, conducted yesterday, paints a fairly clear picture of the circumstances of the accident.
It started with stealing a night-vision device from the force, and with the decision of some commanders to go out and look for him.
The IDF found it difficult yesterday to explain why the searches were conducted at night, and not during the day; it is possible that there was also a head-raising on the part of the commanders, thinking that the thieves would return and in order to catch them.
Major Itamar Elharar was laid to rest in the Kiryat Malachi military cemetery // Photo: Yaniv Zohar
This activity was carried out by two parallel forces, one led by Elharar and Aharon, and the other led by a young team commander in the unit.
The two teams were not coordinated with each other, which led to the fatal encounter between them.
Each of them suspected, by mistake, that he was facing a threat - and opened fire.
It is not clear how commanders from an elite unit, with such rich experience in operational activity and training, go out in the middle of the night for field training without elemental coordination between them, and also without helmets and means of communication.
This also later made it difficult for their rescue operations, carried out by another force using a cell phone.
All of these matters will be at the core of the work of the Commission of Inquiry, headed by Maj. Gen. (Res.) Noam Tibon, which has already begun its work. The committee will probably break down the incident into its components in an attempt to understand what caused the fatal outcome, although the answers to this are already mostly known as a result of the investigation. Therefore, the committee would do well to extend its investigation beyond this specific incident: only in this way can the IDF truly ensure that it turned every stone to prevent similar incidents in the future. As part of this, the committee must review exit procedures for such operations. He confirmed, who knew, and what was the role of the battalion (Walnut), the brigade (commando), the division (98) and the spatial command (Central Command). His opinion.
The committee must also find out whether pressure was exerted (and if so, by whom) as a result of the theft of night-vision equipment, and whether it led to over-motivation of the force.
The commander of Egoz, Lt. Col. A., had already expressed himself in a controversial manner when he criticized a fighter whose weapon was abducted about a year ago during training in the north of the country; the IDF then shrugged off his remarks,
The chain of responsibility can not just end in a battalion.
In the Cherry unit, which also belongs to the commando brigade, there have been quite a few serious cases in recent years, including two-way firing in training (which resulted in the death of fighter Shahar Strug) and operational activity (which seriously injured a platoon commander).
Following the death of Strugg (and the severe injury of a Magellan Eli Hayut fighter), a committee was appointed headed by Major General Itai Yarov, which examined the normative conduct of special units.
"The committee found discrepancies in the routine norms in the units, which are reflected in some of the training and training series, and decided on recommendations to be incorporated as part of the establishment of the school for the commando division," it was reported upon completion of its work.
Now, it will be necessary to examine whether the Virov Committee has indeed investigated in depth and located the failures, and if what has been identified - has also been addressed and changed.
The IDF must not fear an exhaustive inquiry into the matter - including the recent change in the procedures for opening fire on weapons thieves, and the question of whether this had implications for the current accident - and even if it would require harsh command conclusions at senior levels and towards outstanding officers.
At a time when the public's trust in the army is plummeting, the IDF has no choice but to act without appeal - and in full transparency.
Were we wrong?
If you found an error in the article, we'll be happy for you to share it with us