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Widow of officer killed by friendly fire says no anger at soldier who shot him

‘I try to think if the situation was reversed… I would want him to continue living,’ says Or Elharar, whose husband was 1 of the 2 commanders killed in last week’s incident

Or Elharar speaks to Channel 12 news in an interview aired on January 17, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Or Elharar speaks to Channel 12 news in an interview aired on January 17, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The widow of a military officer killed in a recent friendly fire incident said in an interview Monday that she is not angry at the soldier who fatally shot her late husband.

Maj. Itamar Elharar and Maj. Ofek Aharon, both commanders in the elite Egoz Unit, were killed last week by a fellow officer who apparently misidentified them as they patrolled near an Israel Defense Forces base in the Jordan Valley.

Speaking with Channel 12 news, Or Elharar recalled her husband phoned her earlier that day to say he was coming home.

“We were together until 8:30 p.m., and then he left the house. At a quarter to 11 we were still taking and around 1 a.m. they were already knocking on my door,” she recalled, referring to the officers who informed her of Elharar’s death.

Asked what she would tell the officer — who has not been named — who killed her husband, she said, “I would want first of all for him to know that we aren’t angry, that all of us are sending him strength.”

“I pray and hope that he will find a place to draw [strength] from. I try to think if the situation was reversed, if I today was here with a husband, I would want him to continue living,” she added.

Undated photographs of Maj. Itamar Elharar, left, and Maj. Ofek Aharon, who were killed in a friendly fire incident outside their base in the Jordan Valley on January 12, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Elharar recounted the outpouring of support she has received over the past week.

“So many messages, support and hugs from people who I have no idea who they are and never met. I suddenly understand how enormous this is,” she said. “I feel that everyone who sends me a message, it’s as if they’re thanking me for every night we slept apart, for every holiday we weren’t together, or even some family nights he didn’t go to, which would upset me so much.”

She also said that over Shabbat, she went to the weekly prayer service her husband would attend.

“Suddenly I felt that every Shemona Esrei prayer is ‘the resurrection of the dead,’ that these are the only words that are there… I constantly feel that I am between conversations, between God and Itamar,” she said.

Elharar, 26, was set to begin a part-time university program while staying in the military, while Aharon, 28, was scheduled to be promoted next summer, either to a higher position within Egoz or to the Golani Brigade, where he would serve as a deputy battalion commander, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, commander of the IDF Central Command, said.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi has vowed that the deaths would be thoroughly investigated, and a retired major general and the Military Police are leading separate probes of the incident.

The area close to the base where two IDF soldiers were killed in a so-called friendly fire incident the night before, on January 13, 2022 (Yonathan Sindel/Flash90)

According to Fuchs, on the night of January 12, two patrols from Egoz set out from the shooting range next to the Nabi Musa base in the Jordan Valley, separately and unaware of one another, in order to find a person who had stolen night-vision equipment from the base the day before and to prevent further thefts.

One patrol consisted of three company commanders and a soldier, while the second was an officer acting alone. Other officers on the base were informed of the two patrols, but they did not know about each other, Fuchs told reporters on Thursday.

Shortly before 11 p.m., the group of four commandos, using night vision capabilities, spotted the lone officer and believed he was an armed suspect.

They approached him and as they got within close range, he noticed them as well with his own night-vision capabilities.

Believing he had come upon a group of armed suspects, the officer apparently opened fire first, killing the two officers before realizing that they were fellow IDF servicemen, according to the preliminary probe.

The deaths came a week after two IAF pilots were killed in a helicopter crash in the sea off the coast of Haifa.

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