Two Israeli soldiers were killed and three others were wounded Sunday morning when a grenade accidentally exploded near an army post on the Golan Heights, the IDF said in a statement.
The IDF named the two casualties as lone soldier Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow, 20, originally from the US but living in Sde Yoav, and Staff Sgt. Hussam Tafesh, 24, from Beit Jann.
The incident occurred at around 7 a.m., when Tafesh drove an army jeep up to a military outpost at the entrance to the northern Druze village of Majdal Shams.
Tafesh then exited the vehicle while holding a grenade, the army said, and went to talk to Rindenow who was standing at the entrance to the post. The grenade suddenly exploded, killing both Tafesh and Rindenow.
Rindenow’s family lives in New Jersey, according to the IDF. The army said both families have been informed.
The IDF said it was not yet clear why Tafesh was holding the grenade, and has launched an investigation into the incident.
The three other soldiers wounded in the blast were inside the jeep when the grenade exploded. One of them, the patrol commander who was sitting in the passenger seat with the door open, sustained moderate to serious wounds.
The other two soldiers, who were sitting in the backseat, sustained light to moderate injuries.
All three were evacuated by helicopter to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
A doctor in the trauma unit at Rambam confirmed to the Ynet news site that one of the soldiers was in moderate to serious condition with shrapnel wounds to the upper part of his body, and the two others were being treated for light injuries.
The two lightly injured soldiers were being questioned by army investigators to find out how the grenade went off, according to the report.
“We don’t know if there was an argument between the driver and the commander,” a senior IDF source told the news website.
A special IDF committee headed by Col. Yoav Yarom has been tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the deadly explosion.