IDF: Unit acted against protocol in training drill

Preliminary investigation says artillery unit violated regulations by renewing fire after identifying a guidance problem.

December 1, 2011 21:14
1 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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A preliminary investigation launched by the IDF into an incident Wednesday, in which artillery shells were fired dangerously close to troops, including a senior officer, found that the Artillery Corps soldiers who fired the shells did so against army procedures and regulations.

During the exercise, the artillery unit identified a problem with one of its gun's guidance apparatus. The unit commander halted fire and went about fixing the problem. After making the corrections, the unit acted against regulations by renewing fire without taking steps to ensure that the problem was entirely fixed.

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The committee of inquiry will continue its investigation and present its findings to Chief of General 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.

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.

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.

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