Two Israeli soldiers were killed last night in a friendly fire incident during a patrol near a military base in the occupied Jordan Valley.
According to a statement by the military, “The officers were killed after a mistaken identification led to a friendly fire incident.” The pair were both majors in the elite Egoz commando unit and were killed by fellow soldiers who mistook them for Palestinian gunmen, while a spokesperson said warning shots were fired towards a suspicious figure near the Nabi Musa army base during the night-time exercise.
“A soldier in the unit mistook their actions for a Palestinian attack, and as a result of [his] fire, the two officers were killed,” the spokesman said on Kan public radio.
The military is currently investigating the incident and identified the soldiers as Major Ofek Aharon, 28, and Major Itamar Elharar, 26.
The soldiers’ deaths come a week after two Israeli air force pilots were killed in a helicopter crash off the northern coast of Haifa. The incident also follows the military’s announcement two months ago that it would be loosening its policies for opening fire against people suspected of stealing weapons, which has been a persistent problem at army bases, more recently this was revised to include rock-throwing children.