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Soldier who accidentally killed comrade charged with manslaughter

Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot, 22, was shot in the head by a small munition normally used for riot dispersal; shooter aimlessly fired rifle toward a nearby hilltop, striking him

Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot, killed by an apparent accidental discharge from another serviceman’s weapon on a base in the Jordan Valley (Courtesy)
Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot, killed by an apparent accidental discharge from another serviceman’s weapon on a base in the Jordan Valley (Courtesy)

An Israel Defense Forces soldier who accidentally shot and killed his comrade on a military base in the Jordan Valley last month was charged on Wednesday with reckless manslaughter.

The defendant, an officer on the base, shot 22-year-old Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot of the Nahal Brigade on February 23. The bullet struck Granot in the head, critically injuring him.

He was evacuated by helicopter to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem for treatment and was pronounced dead three days later, on February 26.

According to an indictment issued by military prosecutors, Granot was struck by a .22-caliber round for a Ruger rifle, a type of munition normally used for riot dispersal as it is considered less lethal than the larger caliber rounds typically used by the military.

Earlier that day, a number of soldiers had trained with the rifles. After they finished, they lay the rifles down in a line close to the base’s guard post.

According to military prosecutors, at around 10 p.m., the defendant, an officer at the base, picked up one of the rifles and looked through its scope, without checking to see whether or not it was loaded.

“[The defendant] aimed the gun towards a hilltop within the camp… the defendant looked through the scope of the rifle and pulled the trigger,” prosecutors said.

The bullet killed Granot.

As it was the second time in under a week that a soldier was shot on base, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Ground Forces halted all live-fire exercises until the military’s safety protocols are reviewed by all ground units, the military said at the time.

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