IDF names two officers as Major Ofek Aharon and Major Itamar Elharar; military says during patrol near West Bank base, pair fired into air at a suspect, causing another soldier to think he was under attack and shoot them; investigation launched into incident
Itamar Elharar and Ofek Aharon – the two officers killed in the incident (Photo: The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit )
Two Israeli officers were killed by mistake by one of their own troops on Thursday, the military said, in their base in the West Bank.
Both officers were company commanders in the elite Egoz unit and have been named as Maj. Ofek Aharon and Maj. Itamar Elharar.
According to the IDF, around 11pm, the officers were performing a patrol around the Nabi Musa training base in the Jordan Valley after a nighttime training exercise. As they were walking, they spotted a suspicious figure walking nearby.
The officers attempted to arrest the suspect, first calling for them to halt and then firing their weapons into the air. A soldier from their unit heard the gunfire and fired at them, misidentifying them as possible terrorists and fatally wounded them.
Medical personnel provided treatment on the ground, and they were evacuated by helicopter to Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center in Jerusalem, but were soon pronounced dead.
The families of the officers have been notified and the IDF launched an investigation into the incident. The two officers were not yet identified.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday morning expressed their condolences to the families of the two soldiers killed and promised a thorough investigation into the incident.
“It’s a very sad morning. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the two officers who were killed last night in a tragic accident,” Bennett said in a statement.
“The two commanders devoted their best years to Israel’s security and defense of the homeland. The whole nation of Israel mourns. The IDF is investigating the difficult incident and the necessary lessons will be learned. May they rest in peace.”
The Nabi Musa training is frequently used by infantry units and Armored Corps for combat training.
There are Palestinian and Bedouin villages nearby which requires the soldiers to be on alert during training sessions.
The Wednesday night accident came a week after two Air Force pilots were killed when their helicopter crashed off the coast of Haifa. The IDF is still investigating to determine the cause of the crash.