Capt. Yishai Rozales of the Netzach Yehuda Brigade.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has dismissed six soldiers and officers over their involvement in a fatal mortal shell accident during a military exercise on January 5.
Eisenkot made the decision according to the recommendations of a committee formed to investigate the accident that killed Capt. Yishai Rosales, 23, of the Kfir Infantry Brigade.
Rosales was killed at the Tzelim training site in the Negev when a mortar shell exploded near him during a combat drill. The drill was part of preparations to present combat capabilities at the conclusion of a battalion and company commander’s course.
The committee of inquiry recommended the expulsion of the commander of Armored Corps Battalion 75, the deputy battalion commander and the deputy company commander from a unit that supports the armored battalion. The deputy company commander had acted as the safety officer during the exercise. The commander of the mortar firing position, and two non-commissioned officers who were involved in the mortar firing action, have also been dismissed.
On the day of the drill, the investigation found, the mortar missed its mark by 1,400 meters, exploding near Rosales, who had acted as a safety officer for a previous exercise.
“They tried to fire at a target, fixed their trajectory in a mistaken manner, and missed,” an army source said.
Upon studying the committee’s report, the chief of staff identified negligence by commanders, severe professional failures, and a “collapse of the safety mechanism,” the source added.
The drill’s safety officer and exercise manager all failed in preparations before the drill commenced, the source said.
Questions have also been raised about the level of training of mortar firing crews in the Armored Corps, who belong to supporting companies that offer assistance to armored vehicles in combat arenas.
The commander of the Armored Corps training center in Tzelim was also reprimanded by the head of the Ground Forces Command, and a company commander from Battalion 75 received a written comment on his file.
The Military Police investigation into the incident continues.
In the hours following the fatal accident, Maj.-Gen. Guy Tzur, commander of the IDF Ground Forces, ordered all ground training to cease until an initial investigation into the circumstances of the accident was completed. Training has since resumed.
Tzur appointed an investigative committee made up of experts and headed by Col. Ofir Levi, head of the Armored Corps.