Mobile IDF artillery unit fires a shell 311 (R).
(photo credit: Jerry Lampen / Reuters)
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
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.
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
Gantz ordered Turgeman to appoint an official commission of
inquiry inside the Ground Forces Command to investigate the incident.
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
In most exercises, the IDF maintains a buffer zone of at
least 1 kilometer between targets being attacked by artillery shells and
Shells usually disperse shrapnel over several dozen
“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.