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IDF: Troops were hit by friendly fire during uncoordinated chase near Jenin

Probe into September incident, in which two commandos from Duvdevan unit were seriously injured, finds they ran into a fleeing terror suspect’s yard without telling their comrades

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

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits one of the soldiers hurt in the West Bank raid against a Hamas cell, at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, September 27, 2021. (courtesy)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits one of the soldiers hurt in the West Bank raid against a Hamas cell, at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, September 27, 2021. (courtesy)

A military investigation has determined that two commandos who were seriously injured by friendly fire in September were hit as they entered a suspect’s yard during a gun battle without informing their fellow soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces said Friday.

On September 26, Israeli security forces launched a series of arrest raids throughout the West Bank to break up a Hamas cell that was operating in the region. Five Palestinian suspects were killed in the raids, preventing a major terror attack, according to Israeli officials.

During one of these raids in the northern West Bank village of Burqin, near Jenin, soldiers from the Duvdevan counter-terrorism unit were tasked with detaining a member of the cell, who was inside his home and armed with a gun.

According to the IDF, during the arrest operation, the suspect opened fire at the soldiers from the yard of his home and the troops fired back toward the yard. During the exchange, the suspect fled the scene and the platoon commander and his radioman gave chase, firing towards him and hitting him.

“During their run, they entered the yard and were struck by gunfire from our forces and were seriously injured,” the military said.

The probe, which was presented to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi earlier this week, determined that the two soldiers had not informed their comrades that they were entering the yard, which was still being fired upon.

“The chief of staff accepted the findings of the investigation as they were presented to him, principally the mistake made by entering the yard without coordinating with the rest of the force,” the military said.

Kohavi also “stressed the importance of understanding and controlling the troops in the operational environment in which they are operating in,” the IDF said.

The two soldiers were rushed by helicopter to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center for treatment.

3D imaging of “Dalet’s” jaw after injury, with the bullet shown. (Courtesy of Rambam Healthcare Campus)

One soldier was released from Rambam Medical Center last month and was sent to Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan for rehabilitation. The injuries of the second commando were more complicated, requiring a state-of-the-art procedure to rebuild his jaw, which was shattered by one of the bullets.

“I want to wish a speedy recovery to the injured. In this incident, soldiers from the Duvdevan unit prevented with their own bodies harm to the citizens of Israel. The IDF will continue to thwart terrorism, to defend civilians and at the same time to investigate every incident thoroughly, to learn and to improve,” Kohavi said.

“At the same time, in combat, mistakes happen, and we will support you anytime you err,” he added.

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