IDF officer jailed over accidental tank fire at Gaza; troops thought drill real

2 other Armored Corps commanders hit with 14-day suspended sentences for their ‘failures’ in incident in which live shell was launched

File: An Israeli tank takes a position at the Gaza Strip border, October 27, 2018.  (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)
File: An Israeli tank takes a position at the Gaza Strip border, October 27, 2018. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

The military on Thursday handed down brief prison sentences to several Armored Corps commanders, after a tank accidentally fired a live round into the Gaza Strip earlier this month.

An IDF inquiry revealed the troops in the tank accidentally believed the drilled scenario to be a real one, leading them to fire the shell.

The erroneous fire occurred during a drill in the area on December 14. The tank shell hit an abandoned building in the Palestinian territory, but there were no reports of injuries. The IDF said at the time it was investigating the incident.

“The investigation determined that this was a grave incident and raised a number of failures, mishaps and mistakes in the conduct of the commanders and in the safety aspects,” an IDF statement said. “The findings of the investigation revealed the commanders didn’t act in accordance with the required procedures before the exercise and during it, which led to the force’s misunderstanding that it was a real incident.”

The IDF said the commander of the tank platoon was sentenced to seven days in military prison, citing “failures” in his conduct and the safety procedures.

The company commander and his deputy were hit with 14-day suspended sentences for their “overall responsibility for the incident,” according to the statement.

The incident came several weeks after a tank fired without permission at a Hamas observation post along the Gaza border, after Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket at southern Israel. The military chalked up the November 21 incident to a “misunderstanding.”

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