Photo: IDF

2 IDF officers killed in friendly fire incident

Major Ofek Aharon and Major Itamar Elharar after they fired warning shots at a suspect in pursuit, causing a nearby soldier to believe he was under attack and open fire at the pair, killing them.

By Erin Viner

The incident occurred near Nabi Musa military training base in the Jordan Valley last night around 11 PM.

The fallen officers served as company commanders in the Egoz unit. During the attempted arrest of a suspect during a nighttime patrol, they called for him to halt and fired shots in the air. A soldier from the same elite unit mistakenly believed he was under fire by possible terrorists and shot at the officers.

Both of the wounded men were immediately administered medical assistance at the scene, before they were evacuated by helicopter to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, where they 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.

“This is a very sad morning. I would like to send heartfelt condolences to the families of the two officers who were killed last night in a tragic accident,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a statement this morning.

“The two commanders had dedicated their best years to the security of Israel and defending our homeland. The entire people of Israel mourns for them,” he added.

“The IDF is investigating the difficult incident and the necessary lessons will be learned,” said the Prime Minister, ending with the Jewish prayer of comfort, “May their memories be blessed.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi appointed Major General (Res.) Noam Tibon to lead the investigation. During a visit to the site of the fatal shooting, the IDF chief called the incident “very difficult and regrettable,” and conveyed his deepest condolences to the bereaved families while expressing support of all of the commanders and soldiers who had been involved.

The latest fatal military accident comes just a week after 2 Israeli Air Force pilots were killed in a helicopter crash in the Mediterranean Sea offshore Haifa. The cause of that incident is still under investigation.