(photo credit: )
St.-Sgt. Yehuda Basel, who was killed Thursday during an IDF operation in Al-Atatra in the Gaza Strip, was the victim of friendly fire, according to the investigation completed on Sunday.
Golani Brigade Commander Col. Tamir Yadai had announced as much earlier in the day, before the final ruling.
Basel met his death when the IDF took over the remains of three settlements evacuated during last year's disengagement in the face of fierce resistance as dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers began carving out a temporary buffer zone in northern Gaza to stop Kassam rocket attacks.
Yadai told Israel Radio that an initial investigation indicated negligence by the troops, and added that since the army had withdrawn from Gaza some ten months ago, the quantity of effective weapons in the area had increased and the Palestinian factions were better organized.
The commander said he believed that the recent IDF operations in Gaza wouldn't entirely stop Kassam rockets from being launched at Israel.
The army said it would still conduct a more thorough investigation into the incident.
Only four months ago, St.-Sgt. Ido Shapira was also shot and killed by friendly fire during a raid in Jenin.
Shapira was mortally wounded during an exchange of fire with Islamic Jihad and Tanzim operatives. The army initially assumed he was shot by one of the Palestinians, but a soldier later told his commanders that he had mistakenly fired in Shapira's direction.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.