Israeli Cabinet is Focusing on Army Training Accidents

The Israeli Cabinet will direct its attention to army training accidents after a top-level commission investigates a mishap late last week that killed six members of an elite army unit and wounded six more.

A four-member commission, headed by reserve Maj. Gen. Menahem Einan, started its inquiry a day after the still-unexplained firing of a missile early last Thursday, which caused the fatalities near Tze’elim, in the Negev.

The commission was appointed by a deeply shocked army chief of staff. Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak was said by friends to have “visibly aged” at news of the most recent live-fire accident, one of several fatal mishaps in recent months.

A top civilian lawyer was among the otherwise military members of the commission who were interviewing officers and soldiers engaged in the fatal war game.

Barak said he appointed Amnon Goldenberg, a past president of the Israeli Bar Association, to the panel to make sure that possible legal implications were completely covered.

After hearing a report from the chief of staff, the Cabinet decided Sunday to hold a special session on the country’s accident rate, particularly in the army, after the Einan commission submits its report. The report was expected within a few days.

A recent graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Cpl. Eran Wakselbaum, 22, of Tel Aviv, was one of the five casualties. The others were Lt. Elad Shilo, 20, of Kibbutz Givat Brenner; 1st Sgt. Arye Cohen, 20, of Moshav Amioz in the Negev; Sgt. Shimri Shifman, 20, of Kibbutz Netzer Sereni; and Sgt. Sharon Tamir, 21, of Kibbutz Merom Golan.

Their funerals took place on Friday and Sunday.

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