Soldier who shot Nathan Fitoussi in friendly fire incident removed from combat duty

IDF says Sgt. Aleph Mem does not meet ‘operational norms’ expected of combat soldier; Military Police still investigating fatal accident

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

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fitoussi in an undated photograph published by the military on August 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Staff Sgt. Nathan Fitoussi in an undated photograph published by the military on August 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israeli soldier who accidentally shot and killed his comrade in August was removed from combat duty as the Israel Defense Forces wrapped up a probe into the friendly fire incident on Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fitoussi, 20, was shot dead late August 15 after he returned to a guard post near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem and was misidentified as a threat, according to the probe.

The soldier stationed at the post with Fitoussi, identified by the initials of his name in Hebrew, Sgt. Aleph Mem, was to be removed from combat duty “since he did not meet the operational norms expected of an IDF soldier,” the military said.

The Military Advocate General said it would appeal the decision, Army Radio reported.

According to the IDF’s probe, Fitoussi told Aleph Mem that he was going to pray and would return a short while later. But when he returned, his comrade shot him following an arrest procedure, which included shooting into the air and at Fitoussi directly.

The open-fire procedures include shouting at a suspect to halt, firing into the air and only using deadly force if the soldier feels threatened.

The IDF said that following the investigation, the procedures for pairs of soldiers guarding together, and the open-fire policy, were “sharpened.”

Military chief Aviv Kohavi (2L) is seen at the site of a fatal friendly fire incident, near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, August 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

When Aleph Mem realized he had opened fire on his comrade he called his commanding officers, who arrived at the scene along with medical forces. Fitoussi was taken to a hospital, where his death was declared.

The Military Police was still probing the fatal accident, and upon completion of its investigation, the findings are to be forwarded to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Earlier this year, two IDF officers from a commando unit were killed in a friendly fire accident at a base in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

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