IDF sends soldier to prison, censures 3 officers over accidental pistol fire

Krav Maga instructor from elite combat engineering unit fired his handgun indoors last month, prompting investigation

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative. An Israeli man fires a pistol at a shooting range in Jerusalem on March 8, 2007. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative. An Israeli man fires a pistol at a shooting range in Jerusalem on March 8, 2007. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A soldier was sentenced to 20 days in prison and four officers were reprimanded on Monday after the serviceman accidentally fired his handgun indoors on a base in central Israel, the military said.

While it is not uncommon for the Israel Defense Forces to issue harsh punishments over such safety infractions, the steps were seen as somewhat irregular as no one was injured in the incident.

On May 4, the soldier, a Krav Maga instructor in the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit, accidentally discharged his weapon while in his room in the unit’s Sirkin Base in the town of Petah Tikva, the army said. No one was injured by the bullet.

The head of IDF Ground Forces, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, ordered a full investigation into the incident by a committee led by Col. Barak Rubin, who commands the reservist Alon Brigade, that included a number of safety, firearm and infantry specialists.

“Strick received their recommendations and ordered a number of professional directives to refresh and clarify safety protocols,” the military said in a statement.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi was also given a report of the committee’s findings.

In addition to the review of the military’s safety protocols, the committee recommended a series of disciplinary measures against those involved in the incident.

The Krav Maga instructor was kicked out of the Yahalom Unit and sentenced to 20 days in prison.

The head of the Yahalom Unit, a colonel, received an official censure on his record. The commander of the unit’s training school, a lieutenant colonel, was officially reprimanded and will not be eligible for promotion in rank for the next two years. The officer responsible for teaching fighting techniques in the unit, a captain, was also removed from his position.

“The IDF will continue to fully investigate every irregular incident, especially safety violations, in order to learn and improve and to prevent additional safety incidents in the future,” the military said.

Earlier this month, an IDF officer was seriously injured when he was accidentally shot during a training exercise in southern Israel.

In 2018, a soldier in the elite Duvdevan Unit accidentally shot dead another member of the unit while playing “draw” before a training session.

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