TEL AVIV (Jul. 13)
The commander of an undercover Israel Defense Force unit in the West Bank has been relieved of his post following the accidental death last week of one of the unit’s soldiers, who was killed by “friendly fire.”
The officer, identified only as Lt. Col. Oded, was fired by Maj. Gen. Danny Yatom, commander of the Central Sector, after an inquiry determined that the commander ordered one section of the unit to change its location without notifying the other sections.
Sgt. Eli Isha was killed July 8 when a fellow member of the undercover Duvdevan (Cherry) unit opened fire on him, apparently mistaking the disguised soldier for an Arab terrorist. Isha had been situated in a position not defined as a Duvdevan post.
The IDF spokesman said that Yatom, after reviewing the investigation report, decided Sunday to relieve the unit commander for “failing to properly deploy the force, thus causing the death of Sgt. Isha by friendly fire.”
The statement said Yatom summoned the commander and presented him with the investigation’s findings, stressing his responsibility for the operational failure that led to Isha’s death.
The accidental death occurred in Barta’a village, near Jenin, where the Duvdevan unit was trying to ambush a wanted terrorist.
The Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, approved the decision to remove the Duvdevan commander, despite his previously impressive and impeccable record.
Military sources noted that removal of the commander is an inevitable disciplinary action.