Commanders of drowned IDF soldier to be dismissed

Army investigation into death of Ilan Yankilevich finds problems with senior officers’ command, routine safety procedures

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi speaks at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on June 15, 2016. (Screen capture: IDC Herzliya)
Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi speaks at the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on June 15, 2016. (Screen capture: IDC Herzliya)

An IDF investigation into the death by drowning of a soldier recommended the dismissal of three officers from their posts as well as other disciplinary measures against commanders in his Intelligence Corps unit.

The conclusions of the investigation were presented to IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who accepted the recommendations, the army said in a statement Tuesday.

Corporal Ilan Yankilevich, 19, of Netanya drowned in a water reservoir near Kibbutz Kissufim in the south of the country on July 27.

According to a report from Haaretz at the time, six soldiers — three men and three women — were not on a military mission when they entered the reservoir and were wearing civilian clothing. Yankilevich was declared dead at the scene by MDA paramedics after they failed to resuscitate him. Two other soldiers were rescued from the reservoir with injury. The soldiers’ unit was stationed along the border with the Gaza Strip.

Following the death of Yankilevich, IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevy set up the committee to look into the incident. The committee concluded that Yankilevich died from swallowing water and drowning and that the fatality came against the backdrop of problems with command and with routine safety behavior.

As a result, Halevi decided to take measures against those involved, in accordance with army regulations, the IDF statement said.

Two of Yankilevich’s direct commanders, who hold the rank of second lieutenant, are to be dismissed and their continued service in the army is to be reviewed. In addition, the battalion executive officer is to be relieved of his position.

The committee’s findings were also sent to the deceased’s family.

Military Police are continuing to investigate the incident, the IDF said. Concluding findings of the investigation will be presented to the IDF military prosecutor, who will decide whether further action should be taken.

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