Seven soldiers lightly wounded by landmine in Jordan Valley

Seven soldiers lightly wounded by landmine in Jordan Valley

Two servicemen flown to hospital by helicopter, five more driven there after mine explodes under their car; army launches investigation

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

Illustrative photograph of an Israeli minefield. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative photograph of an Israeli minefield. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Seven soldiers were lightly injured after a landmine exploded under their vehicle in the Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea, the army said.

Two servicemen were flown to a Jerusalem hospital by helicopter for treatment. Five more were driven to the hospital and arrived a short time later.

The army said the troops were performing “a routine mission to fix a fence around a minefield” near a Christian holy site known as Qasr al-Yahud.

“Duding the operation, their military vehicle went over a landmine, which exploded, injuring several of them,” the military said.

According to the IDF’s initial investigation, the M15 anti-tank mine — an obsolete variety from the 1950s — that exploded under their car “had apparently drifted and gotten covered in sand.”

The two soldiers who were flown to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem’s trauma center were fully conscious and undergoing tests to determine the extent of their injuries, a hospital spokesperson said.

The other five, who were driven to the hospital’s regular emergency room, were also fully conscious and receiving treatment, the spokesperson said.

All seven were said to be lightly wounded.

The circumstances surrounding the mine blast were being investigated, the army said.

Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, head of the IDF Central Command, ordered his chief engineering officer, Col. Max Nodelman, to lead the probe, the army said.

The Jordan Valley is pocked with thousands in mines planted by Israel and Jordan over the years.

Greek Orthodox Christian pilgrims walk by a sign warning of mines as they take part in a traditional Epiphany baptism ceremony, at Qasr el Yahud on January 18, 2011. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel mined the area of Qasr al-Yahud and other sites along the Jordan River following the 1967 Six Day War in a bid to prevent Jordanian tanks and infantry, as well as Palestinian fedayeen, guerrilla fighters and terrorists, from infiltrating into Israeli-held territory and attacking Israeli settlements. Before 1967, Jordan also mined the area.

According to the Wall Street Journal there are approximately 90 square kilometers (35 square miles) of land with mines in Israel and the West Bank.

Israel recently promised funds to remove some 4,000 mines from the Qasr al-Yahud Christian pilgrimage site on the river.

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

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