A picture taken on November 12, 2018 shows a bus set ablaze after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
Several officers were reprimanded by the IDF on Monday following an investigation into an incident in which a soldier was seriously injured after a bus near the Gaza border was struck by an anti-tank missile last month.
An investigation into the incident at the Black Arrow site on November 12 was headed by Brig.-Gen. Amir Ebstein, the commander of the IDF’s Border Defense Array. It found that a number of “operational failings” led to the attack and that steps were not taken to keep the vehicle and soldiers out of the area.
“The investigation, which was conducted by the Gaza Division, Ground Forces and Southern Command, and presented to the IDF chief of staff has found operational failings in how the troops were managed in the field, in terms of command, clearing out the area and operational discipline,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
According to the military, following a situational assessment and threat analysis that Hamas was looking to carry out sniper or anti-tank fire against Israeli targets in the area, several roadblocks had been set up by Military Police around the Black Arrow site, which had been closed following an order signed by the head of the Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy.
Nevertheless, the bus and other military vehicles along with soldiers had been allowed through the roadblocks, putting them in clear range of weapons from Gaza like the Kornet.
Following the investigation, Northern Gaza Regional Brigade commander Col. Avi Rosenfeld, as well as the head of the regional battalion and two company commanders, received official censures.
No officers were dismissed from their position.
The soldier’s mother Michal harshly criticized the military’s decision, telling Walla! News that the officers should have received much harsher punishments.
“This is a light punishment, and whoever gave the order should have been severely punished. They should have thrown him out of the army or at least lowered him in rank. Something that will deter the commanders in the future; something that will give a red light: There is a serious failure here.”
Following the attack, the Gaza Division formulated a new set of operational plans during times of emergency to prevent similar attacks, the military said.
The incident came at the beginning of the last round of violence between the Hamas-run coastal enclave and Israel after a botched raid by elite IDF troops in the Gazan city of Khan Yunis.
A firefight broke out between the troops and Palestinian militants, leading to an IDF officer and seven Palestinians being killed. The next day, Hamas fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at the bus which just moments earlier had been full with dozens of soldiers.
A video released by Hamas showed the bus pulling up next to several Savana vans, with one soldier visibly standing next to it in an unprotected area as the Kornet struck, completely destroying the bus. The soldier was seriously wounded and the driver was moderately wounded.
The soldier’s father, who was interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2 News after the attack, also strongly criticized the military, saying: “Why was my son there? I don’t understand what they were doing near the border. They brought them to the fence and left them like sitting ducks.”
What followed was close to 500 rockets and mortars fired towards Israeli communities and Israel hitting back at Hamas and Islamic Jihad with 160 air strikes, some against what the IDF called “strategic assets” like the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa television in the heart of the coastal enclave.
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