Capt. Tal Nachman, 21, who was killed by IDF fire early Tuesday morning near the border with the northern Gaza Strip, was laid to rest at the military cemetery in Nes Ziona on Tuesday afternoon. The funeral was attended by a crowd of nearly a thousand.
“He was killed by friendly fire for nothing; had it been during wartime that would have been something else,” Nesi Nachman, the soldier’s father, told Army Radio. “We didn’t believe that this sort of thing would befall us.”
He said that it was supposed to be his son’s last day stationed in the area, before starting his service as a commander in a different unit.
At the funeral, Nesi Nachman said he felt uneasy in the past few days. “I told Mother that so long as he has not finished his job, I’m not at ease.”
“If they [the IDF] would have enforced some procedures and discipline, then all this would be prevented,” Nachman continued. “But apparently it was preordained above. We’ll miss you, rest in peace, we love you.”
“All who knew you knew you were a real prince, with a winning smile and a heart of gold,” his brother Omer said.
Based on initial reports, the incident occurred while a force from the Givati Brigade was providing security to a vehicle from the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps just inside the border fence opposite Kibbutz Be’eri.
Shortly before 2 a.m., Givati soldiers left their Achzarit armored vehicle to conduct a foot patrol in the area. The infantry force noticed a figure on the intelligence vehicle, and went through the procedure for identifying a suspicious person.
It was unclear if an order was given to shoot, and if so by whom, but one of the Givati soldiers lying on the ground opened fire at the suspicious figure from a distance of less than 20 meters, missing him entirely. But at least one of the bullets he fired hit Nachman, who was lying on top of the vehicle at the time.
Initial reports indicated that the soldier seen by the infantrymen had gotten out of the vehicle to retrieve an item from an external compartment.
Efforts and threats by Hamas and other Gaza extremist groups to kidnap soldiers remain a serious concern for the IDF, which may have played a factor in the infantry force’s reaction to the suspicious figure on the vehicle.
The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated by the IDF.
“To think of this merely as a mistake would be incorrect,” Brig. Gen. (res.) Zvika Fogel, the former head of the IDF southern command, told Army Radio. “Around the Gaza Strip there are many forces that prevent the possibility of infiltration.”
However, Fogel added that the infiltration prevention exacted “a very heavy price.”