JERUSALEM (Mar. 20)
The Israeli soldiers who were attacked by terrorists in the Arava on Friday night did not follow army procedure in handling the incident, according to military sources who investigated the tragedy.
One soldier was killed and a Bedouin tracker was wounded in the assault, which occurred near Moshav Hatzeva, just inside Israel’s eastern border with Jordan.
Military sources said Monday that the soldiers should have tried to “assault and eliminate” the terrorists before evacuating and treating the wounded.
But the sources also placed fault on the army doctor who treated the soldier, criticizing him for not knowing the area and wasting time getting to the injured.
Five soldiers routinely patrolling the usually quiet border Friday night were alerted by the tracker to footprints on the dirt path that runs along the border fence.
The tracker, who left the patrol vehicle to investigate, was subsequently surprised by a command in English to stop. A gunman hidden in a bush then opened fire on the tracker and the vchicle.
As the soldiers returned the fire, another gunman hiding in the bushes opened fire, mortally wounding Sgt. Maj. Oren Lior.
The terrorists’ subsequent silence tricked the soldiers into believing they had killed their attackers. But the terrorists later slipped back through the fence into Jordan, where they were subsequently apprehended, according to Jordanian officials.
The military doctor reportedly was so unfamiliar with the terrain that he and a non-commissioned officer who accompanied him could not figure out how to exit a nearby moshav’s locked gate.
As a result, the doctor and officer were apparently detained 40 minutes after Lior was shot, sources said.