Two IDF soldiers killed in Golan Heights grenade explosion

Driver of light armored vehicle carrying Combat Engineering personnel exits vehicle with grenade in hand; IDF: We do not yet understand the circumstances of this incident.

July 17, 2016 15:36
2 minute read.
IDF accident

IDF Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow and St.-Sgt. Husam Tafash, who were killed Sunday in a grenade explosion in northern Israel. (photo credit: UNITE HATZALAH WEST BANK,Courtesy)

Two IDF soldiers – including a lone soldier from the US – were killed and three others wounded when a grenade in the possession of a driver of a light armored military vehicle went off on Mount Hermon.

The casualties have been named as 20-year-old Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow, a soldier in the 401 Brigade, originally from New Jersey, and 24-yearold St.-Sgt. Husam Tafish, of Beit Jann. OC Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, has appointed a commission to investigate the incident.

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Rindenow had been living in the southern kibbutz of Sde Yoav.

The incident happened Sunday morning at the entrance to the Majdal checkpoint, which is the first entry point to the Hermon region. The soldiers, from the IDF’s Combat Engineering Brigade, were in the area to secure a border road.

A senior IDF source provided preliminary details of the incident.

According to the source’s account, an IDF David light armored vehicle carrying soldiers and a commander from the 601 battalion – a part of the Combat Engineers Brigade – pulled over near the Majdal checkpoint position. The jeep came to a stop a meter away from the position’s concrete wall.

“At this stage, a conversation began, and the driver exited the vehicle, holding the grenade,” the source said.

The driver, a reservist from the northern Druse village of Beit Jann, had previously served as a career military driver, and recently returned to service.

As the driver walked around the front of the vehicle, holding the grenade, the lone soldier, who was part of the checkpoint personnel, stood between the jeep and the wall.

“We do not understand the circumstances of this event yet,” the source continued. “The commander of the David vehicle then opened his door. That was when the blast occurred.”

The explosion killed the driver holding the grenade and Rindenow, who was standing between the jeep and the wall. The commander in the vehicle sustained serious wounds.

Two additional soldiers were lightly wounded by shrapnel.

The funeral for Tafish will be held Monday at 11 a.m. in Beit Jann. No information on funeral arrangements for Rindenow was available at press time.

“This is a grave and difficult incident,” the source said.

Tafish’s father told Army Radio that his son had replaced a friend as the driver, and was not supposed to take part in operational activity.

The IDF assembled a committee to investigate the blast, headed by Col.

Yoav Yarom, the commander of the Third Reserves Brigade. Senior officers from Northern Command, and the Ground Forces, will take part in the investigation.

While combat soldiers who take part in the clearing of border roads are armed with grenades, drivers of military vehicles are not.

“We have to understand why he exited the vehicle holding the grenade,” the source said. “This is something the committee of experts will determine.”

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