IDF confirms soldier seriously injured in Sunday lightning strike
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Serviceman partially regains consciousness, doctors say

IDF confirms soldier seriously injured in Sunday lightning strike

Accident occurred during a military exercise in an open field during storm; fellow troops credited with saving his life

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

Medics treat a 19-year-old Israeli who was struck by lightning while standing in an open field in northern Israel on December 8, 2019. (Magen David Adom)
Medics treat a 19-year-old Israeli who was struck by lightning while standing in an open field in northern Israel on December 8, 2019. (Magen David Adom)

An Israeli soldier struck by lightning during a drill Sunday remained in serious condition Monday but was showing signs of improvement, authorities said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed Monday that the 19-year-old man, who sustained severe injuries in the strike in northern Israel, was one of its soldiers.

“Yesterday, an IDF soldier was seriously wounded as a result of a lightning strike during a military exercise in the north of the country,” the military said in a statement.

The information had been barred from publication until the serviceman’s family could be notified.

The man, who was struck near Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet, was taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.

Illustrative: Lightning illuminates the sky over Nahariya during a rain storm on October 26 2012. (Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

The soldier remained in serious condition on Monday, though his health had improved and he had partially regained consciousness, his doctors said.

The soldier was hit by the lightning as he and other troops were in an open field during a drill, despite a large storm system that moved into the region Sunday, bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms.

His fellow soldiers told the Magen David Adom ambulance service that there was heavy rain, followed by a bolt of lightning, after which they noticed their friend lying on the ground.

“The young man’s life was saved thanks to the treatment in the field that he got from his friends,” his doctor at Rambam said Sunday.

The soldier sustained severe burns and was unconscious and connected to a respirator when he was taken to the hospital.

No other injuries were reported in the lightning strike.

The IDF launched an internal investigation into the incident, as is procedure for any case of a soldier sustaining a significant injury during an exercise. A military spokesperson said a criminal investigation was not being opened as it did not appear that there was cause for it, saying the soldier’s injuries were a “natural disaster.”

Paratrooper Evyatar Yosefi, 20, drowned during a training exercise in northern Israel on January 7, 2018. (Facebook)

Earlier this year, another IDF soldier was killed in a training accident during inclement weather. In January, Sgt. Evyatar Yosefi, 20, drowned while trying to cross the Hilazon Stream during a training exercise in northern Israel after the waterway had become swollen by recent rains.

The military’s investigation into Yosefi’s death found that his commanders had failed to adequately prepare for the inclement weather and its effects on the ground. As a result of the probe, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi dismissed five of Yosefi’s officers from their positions and officially reprimanded the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade over their failure to prevent his death.

In October, a 14-year-old boy was killed after being struck by lightning while at the beach near Ashdod, the first fatality in the country from lightning since 2007.

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