Bulletproof vest saves soldier as comrade accidentally fires at him in IDF vehicle
Soldier only lightly hurt in accident in West Bank; latest incident follows fatal friendly fire killing of a soldier earlier in the week
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
An Israeli soldier was lightly hurt after his comrade accidentally discharged his gun inside a military vehicle during an operation in the West Bank city of Nablus early Thursday, the army said. He was saved by his bulletproof vest.
According to the Israel Defense Forces’ initial probe of the incident, the accident occurred as troops from the Givati infantry brigade began to wrap up a military escort of worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian city.
The accident came days after an Israeli soldier, 20-year-old Nathan Fitoussi, was shot dead after he returned to a guard post near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem and was misidentified as a threat, and amid reports of additional operational safety lapses.
Early Thursday, troops boarded a Panther armored vehicle, and as they sat down one soldier accidentally fired his weapon, hitting a soldier sitting across from him, according to the IDF’s internal report.
The bullet struck the soldier’s ceramic armored plating, which apparently saved his life but left him with light injuries to his chest, the report said. Without the bulletproof vest, the bullet would have hit the soldier directly in the chest, possibly fatally.
According to the IDF’s initial findings, the troops had boarded the vehicle with their rifles loaded, a standard procedure during operations in the West Bank.
Before entering the armored vehicle, one of the soldiers shouted at his comrades to make sure their safety catches were set to the safe position. “Everyone made sure, including the soldier” who accidentally fired, the report said.
It remained unclear how the soldier’s safety catch was flipped to allow gunfire, or how the gun was accidentally discharged. The IDF said it would further investigate the case.
Troops had been securing the visit of Jewish worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. The IDF said in a statement that troops had returned fire at Palestinian gunmen during the visit. One Palestinian, a teenager, was reported killed, and dozens more were hurt.
Clashes during the visits are commonplace; Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops and frequently attack them with Molotov cocktails and gunfire.