IDF officers to face pre-indictment hearings over soldier’s drowning in exercise
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IDF officers to face pre-indictment hearings over soldier’s drowning in exercise

Military Advocate General summons five commanders of Sgt. Evyatar Yosefi, 20, who were sacked in March over failures that led to his death in a flooded stream

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

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

Five army officers were summoned on Thursday for a hearing to determine whether charges will be filed against them over their failure to prevent the drowning of a soldier during a navigation exercise in January.

The decision by Israel Defense Forces Military Advocate General Sharon Afek was made following his officer’s investigation into the death of Sgt. Evyatar Yosefi, 20, which found a series of significant failures throughout the chain of command that the military said were the ultimate cause of the serviceman’s death.

Yosefi, who served in the Paratroopers Brigade, drowned while attempting to cross a rain-swollen stream in northern Israel during a navigation exercise.

The IDF said Afek’s investigation revealed “that the navigation planning and preparations were carried out in apparent disregard of binding safety regulations, and insufficient weight had been given to the weather forecast…and its possible implications on the safety of the soldiers.”

Soldiers from the IDF Commando Brigade take part in a large-scale training exercise in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

“The investigation also revealed that there were warning signs during the navigation, which should have led to a reassessment of the situation and the provision of instructions to protect the soldier’s safety,” the army said in a statement.

The five officers — the soldier’s team leader, a lieutenant; his deputy platoon commander, a lieutenant; his platoon commander, a captain; the commander of his training program, a major; and his battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel — were all dismissed from their positions in March. The commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, Col. Yaakov “Yaki” Dolef, also received an official censure on his record, the military said at the time.

The IDF said that after the hearings, it will be decided whether the officers will be charged and if so, on what offense. The army added that lessons were learned from the incident and that they were already integrated into its current conduct.

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