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Soldier who accidentally killed comrade is convicted of manslaughter

Defendant shot Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot, 23, in the head with a weapon normally used for riot dispersal; sentence expected to be handed down next month

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot, killed by an apparent accidental discharge from another serviceman’s weapon in the Jordan Valley (Courtesy)
Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot, killed by an apparent accidental discharge from another serviceman’s weapon 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 year was convicted on Thursday of reckless manslaughter.

The defendant, identified only by his Hebrew initial as Staff Sgt. Mem, shot 23-year-old Staff Sgt. Yonatan Granot of the Nahal Brigade on February 23, 2021.

The bullet struck Granot in the head, critically injuring him. He was taken by helicopter to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem for treatment and was pronounced dead three days later.

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, a soldier at the base who was not qualified to use the weapon, picked up one of the rifles and looked through its scope without checking to see whether or not it was loaded.

Staff Sgt. Mem is seen at a military court with his lawyer, Ran Cohen, on March 17, 2021. (Screenshot: Ynet)

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

The bullet killed Granot.

Sgt. Mem’s sentence is expected to be handed down next month. He has been under house arrest since being released from the military last year.

In November, several high-ranking officers received an official reprimand and lower-ranking ones were removed from their positions over the incident.

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