Errant IDF shells land 100 meters from Gantz

Initial IDF inquiry discovers that two 155 mm artillery shells accidentally diverted from their planned target.

November 30, 2011 23:42
2 minute read.
Mobile IDF artillery unit fires a shell [file]

Mobile IDF artillery unit fires a shell 311 (R). (photo credit: Jerry Lampen / Reuters)


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Human error appeared to be the cause of a training accident that occurred early on Wednesday morning, and almost ended in disaster, with artillery shells hitting just over 100 meters from IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

The shells were fired during a live-fire brigade-level exercise at the Ze’elim Training Base in the South. Gantz was present at the exercise together with OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi and OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman.

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IDF exercise halted after artillery shell strays

Following the incident, Gantz immediately suspended the exercise.

An initial IDF inquiry discovered that two 155 mm. artillery shells accidentally diverted from their planned target – one struck about 100 meters from Gantz and a group of officers, and the other landed about 50 meters from Mizrachi and another group of soldiers. No one was injured.

Gantz ordered Turgeman to appoint an official commission of inquiry inside the Ground Forces Command to investigate the incident.

One officer said six shells were fired before the two that deviated, and they landed within the safety zone. The latter two missed their target by almost 2 kilometers. Following a preliminary investigation in the field, Gantz agreed to renew the exercise but without artillery fire.

“It appears there might have been a human error in the aiming that led the two shells to deviate,” the officer said.

In most exercises, the IDF maintains a buffer zone of at least 1 kilometer between targets being attacked by artillery shells and soldiers.

Shells usually disperse shrapnel over several dozen meters.

“This could have been a major disaster,” another officer said. “We were very lucky.”

The IDF said that in general, training accidents have dropped in recent years, although the artillery accident comes after an anti-tank missile that was accidentally fired three months ago at a group of soldiers during a training drill.

In July, a soldier from the Givati Brigade was critically wounded when he was accidentally shot in the back by a fellow soldier during a training exercise on the Golan Heights.

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