TEL AVIV (Nov. 15)
An official commission of inquiry has found negligence and faulty planning to blame for a training accident that killed five members of an elite unit of the Israel Defense Force and wounded five more.
But the panel recommended the army prosecutor strike a balance in considering legal action against three officers held responsible for the Nov. 5 accidental firing of a missile during an exercise in the Negev.
It said the fatal outcome should be weighed against the quality of the three “talented and devoted officers” involved, whom it described as “among the best” in the IDF.
They were Maj. Gen. Amiram Levin, in overall charge of the drill, and a major and captain directly responsible for implementation of the exercise.
Levin, 46, regarded as one of the outstanding fighters in the IDF, was involved in the 1976 Entebbe rescue operation and in a commando raid on Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Beirut.
He offered to resign immediately after the accident and said in a eulogy at the funeral of one of the victims, “You have the right to be angry at me.”
The panel said the case involved a highly motivated elite unit which trained at the limits of danger in preparation for actual battle conditions, causing ambitious commanders to sometimes pay less attention to security.
The report was presented Sunday to the Cabinet, which accepted it without a vote. The commission was headed by reserve Maj. Gen. Menahem Einan and included two IDF colonels and a prominent civilian lawyer.