Four soldiers dismissed for Gaza friendly-fire incident

Tal Nachman, 21, was killed in February in what the IDF says was a case of misidentification

Capt. Tal Nachman (photo credit: Facebook)
Capt. Tal Nachman (photo credit: Facebook)

An IDF soldier who accidentally shot and killed a comrade while operating near the Gaza Strip last month will be dismissed from service in combat units, as will his direct commanders, stated an army report issued Thursday.

According to the extensive report on the February 4 death of Capt. Tal Nachman, 21, from Ness Ziona, the shooting was due to an error in identification while the unit was operating along the Israeli border near northern Gaza.

Nachman was killed by friendly fire while sleeping on his jeep at around 2 a.m. The investigators found that another soldier was misidentified as a hostile fighter by IDF forces patrolling the area, leading to them opening fire and accidentally hitting Nachman, and that there were errors made in the preparation and execution of the mission.

The incident occurred when 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.

However, 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. At least one of the bullets he fired hit Nachman instead, who was sleeping on top of the vehicle at the time.

The report indicated that the soldier seen by the infantrymen had stepped out of the vehicle to retrieve an item from an external compartment.

The report was presented to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who said Thursday that the episode was a “tragic incident,” which resulted in the loss of a “wonderful man, an officer and a good warrior.” The IDF would take steps to ensure that such mistakes do not happen in the future, Gantz said.

According to a Walla report on the incident, four people in total are to be dismissed from combat positions: the shooter from the Givati Brigade; his immediate commander; the brigade commander; and Nachman’s commander, who was also deemed to bear some responsibility for the friendly-fire death.

Efforts and threats by Hamas and other Gaza extremist groups to kidnap soldiers remain a serious concern for the IDF, which may have been a factor in the infantry force’s reaction to the suspicious figure on the vehicle.

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