Elite soldier gets 18 months for accidentally shooting comrade

The soldier also received another 12 months probation and was demoted.

July 5, 2018 00:17
2 minute read.
Elite soldier gets 18 months for accidentally shooting comrade

THE IDF’S ELITE Duvdevan unit and the Czech Armed Force’s 601st Special Forces Group train together recently in urban-warfare techniques at Tze’elim Army Base in the Negev.. (photo credit: IDF)

The Duvdevan soldier who accidentally shot and killed his friend Shachar Strug in March was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Wednesday under a plea deal.

Under a plea deal reached with the prosecution, the soldier, identified as N., also received 12 months of probation and was demoted from staff-sergeant to the rank of private.

N. admitted to shooting Strug while the two were playing with their weapons, and charges against him were downgraded from murder to causing death by negligence, due to his combat service and contribution to the unit.

Strug, from Givatayim, was seriously wounded after he was shot by N.’s pistol, which was fired without a safety plug as the two were waiting for a training exercise on an IDF base in the center of the country. Strug was evacuated to Hadassah-University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, where doctors pronounced his death.

According to the IDF committee’s report on the incident, N. confessed immediately to his commanders, saying “What have I done? I killed my friend, I ruined my life.”

During a hearing on Monday at the Jaffa Military Court, the defendant burst into tears, apologizing to Strug’s parents.

“First of all, the most important thing for me is to apologize to the Strug family, to see them and talk to them, to tell them that I am sorry,” he was quoted by Walla!News as saying. “Shachar and I were the best of friends. He was not only a friend during the army but also a friend for life. It hurts the most that no matter what I do, I cannot heal the Strug family’s pain. I just want to tell them that I am sorry and that I love them. I hope that in the future they will be able to forgive me, if it is possible.”

The investigation into Strug’s death also found three other similar incidents of illegal use of firearms by other soldiers in the Duvdevan unit. None of the other cases led to fatalities.

The investigation also determined that there was insufficient command and control in order to prevent the use of weapons in contravention of IDF orders and procedures, despite the awareness of such a possibility, after the three previous incidents that occurred in the unit.

The IDF report stated that despite the team sergeant noticing that weapons exercises were being carried out illegally, “he turned a blind eye. Members of the team saw Strug playing with weapons a few minutes before his death, but they did not stop him nor call his commanders.”

According to the IDF, “Playing with weapons is something that is not accepted in the army,” and therefore several recommendations have been made by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, including more stringent controls on who can carry a weapon and when.

In light of the severity of the incident and the findings of the commission of inquiry, Eisenkot decided on a number of command steps, including the dismissal of a company commander and a platoon commander and the termination of the brigade commander’s appointment.

Strug was buried in the military section of the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in Tel Aviv.

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