Jan 22, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Two IDF officers were killed on Wednesday in a friendly-fire incident in the Jordan Valley. at around 11 PM.

“The officers were misidentified and mistakenly killed by IDF fire,” the IDF said in a statement on Thursday.

The two officers, Maj. Ofek Aharon and Maj. Itamar Elharar, served in the elite Egoz unit that specializes in guerrilla warfare and special reconnaissance.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and a group of officers at the scene where two IDF officers were killed in a so-called friendly fire incident on January 13, 2022 (Yonathan Sindel/Flash90)

Commander of the Central Command, Major General Yehuda Fuchs said Wednesday that the two officers apparently shot each other when they attempted to catch infiltrators smuggling weapons from the Nabi Musa training base in the Jordan Valley in which the incident took place. Night vision equipment was stolen from the troops inside the base while they were on a training exercise. The officers led a patrol around the base in an attempt top recover the stolen equipment. The two groups were uncoordinated and without helmets, vests or radios which may have contributed to the deadly confusion. One patrol consisted of three company commanders and a soldier, while the second was an officer acting alone.

As they were walking, the team with the two officers spotted a suspicious figure walking about 200 meters away on a mound, flanked him until they were just several meters away, and yelled at him in Arabic to halt.The suspewct was, in fact, another IDF officer. The lone officer  the two officers, misidentifying them as possible terrorists and fatally wounded them. Despite being only 10 to 15 meters away from each other and all being equipped with noight vision, they did not recognize that they were all from the same unit.
The military initially said that Aharon and Elharar had attempted to arrest the third officer, calling for him to halt and firing into the air, but this was later found not to have been the case. The IDF currently believes that the third officer fired first, though this was still being investigated, according to IDF Central Command chief Yehuda Fuchs. It is still unclear who opened fire first.
The two officers were given emergency medical care on the ground and evacuated by helicopter to Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, where they were pronounced dead.
Aharon was buried in the military cemetery in Gan Yavne, and Elharar in the military cemetery in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday evening.
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.