IDF chief calls for policy changes after recruit killed in tryout accident
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IDF chief calls for policy changes after recruit killed in tryout accident

Ron Eliyahu Oved, 18, was one of 6 teenagers hit by a bus that rolled into his tent during an evaluatory exercise for the Paratroopers Brigade in April

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Ron Eliyahu Oved, right, and his father. Oved was killed in an accident during a tryout for the IDF Paratroopers Brigade on April 11, 2019. (Courtesy of the family)
Ron Eliyahu Oved, right, and his father. Oved was killed in an accident during a tryout for the IDF Paratroopers Brigade on April 11, 2019. (Courtesy of the family)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Thursday called for a number of policy changes in response to a deadly accident earlier this year in which an 18-year-old recruit was killed during a tryout for the Paratroopers Brigade.

On April 11, Ron Eliyahu Oved, from Kibbutz Palmachim in the center of the country, was hit by an empty bus that rolled into a group of tents used by teenage recruits, close to Kibbutz Shomria in southern Israel.

The empty vehicle, which was owned and operated by a civilian company, had been parked nearby and the driver was outside when it suddenly began rolling toward the tents. Some of the recruits managed to run away, while others were hit.

Oved and the other five teenage victims were taking part in a tryout for a volunteer-only combat unit, a process known in Hebrew as a gibush. The accident occurred near the main training base for the Paratroopers Brigade in the northern Negev.

The scene after an empty bus rolled and hit a group of young Israelis while they were attending tryouts for a military unit, April 11, 2019, near Kibbutz Shomria (Screen grab via Channel 12)

The military said its internal investigation of the case had been completed and presented to Kohavi earlier this week.

In a statement, the army said Kohavi had reviewed the findings and ordered a number of changes to IDF policies regarding tryouts and the temporary tent facilities used to hold them.

The IDF said it would expand its oversight of civilian transportation companies that provide services to the military.

“The rules regarding the total prohibition of sleeping next to vehicles will be refreshed,” the army said.

The military was also considering better training and equipping the units that perform such tryouts for search and rescue, the IDF said.

“Kohavi added that the IDF, as an organization that holds these tryouts, is responsible for the health and safety of the recruits who take part in them,” the army said.

The probe’s findings and recommendations were presented to Oved’s family and to the units that hold tryouts.

Five others, besides Oved, were injured in the accident.

A police investigation into the bus driver’s culpability in Oved’s death is ongoing. Shortly after the accident, a lawyer for the driver said he had gone to use the bathroom and left the bus parked using the handbrake but the bus gears were set to “drive.”

“The driver claims that he does not remember changing gear,” explained attorney Raz Keren Yehoshua. “The bus was running, he started it a few minutes earlier for the soldiers to board. When he was in the bathroom, he heard shouts and saw the bus.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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