Two IDF soldiers from the elite Duvdevan Commando Unit were injured by shrapnel during training Tuesday.
The two were lightly and moderately injured after a grenade exploded during routine training at the Nachshon Base, near Ma’aleh Adumim in central Israel, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
One was wounded in his hands while the other suffered injuries to his lower limbs. They were treated by Magen David Adom paramedics before being rushed to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem for further treatment. Both were fully conscious.
According to reports, the two soldiers were at the base’s firing range when another soldier kicked a grenade that had fallen onto the ground. It then exploded, injuring the two soldiers who were standing nearby.
The military said that the incident was being investigated.
The Duvdevan (“cherry”) unit was established in 1986 and is known for carrying a range of high-risk urban warfare operations such as arrests, raids, targeted killing and kidnappings.
The two were injured less than a week after two officers in the Commando Brigade’s Egoz Unit – Maj. Ofek Aharon and Maj. Itamar Elharar – were killed by friendly fire after another soldier misidentified them while they were all searching for stolen equipment at the Nabi Musa training base in the Jordan Valley.
The officer who shot them, Lt. “N,” was interrogated by Military Police for 10 hours on Sunday and insisted that he felt that his life was in danger and did not know that he had opened fire on his commanders.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said the incident would be thoroughly investigated, with a military investigation and the Military Police leading separate probes of the incident. According to N12, Kohavi was visiting the Egoz Unit when he heard of Tuesday’s incident with the Duvdevan troops.
N12 reported that following the tragedy in the Egoz Unit, senior officers criticized the conduct of the elite troops, saying that the unit is “chaotic” and that “commanders are expected to behave differently.”
There have been several serious incidents in the Duvdevan Unit in recent years, including the death of 20-year-old St.-Sgt. Shahar Strug, who was killed in 2018 when his roommate accidentally discharged a firearm while he was playing with it.
On Sunday, the military stopped all noncritical activities in order to discuss the recent events. During the day, all officers and troops were instructed to discuss “safety issues, risk management and coordination between troops”, the military said in a statement. Officers will have to brief their soldiers on the issues and “in accordance to regulations,” it added.
Egoz went back to operational duty and resumed training in northern Israel on Tuesday, with the military saying the unit “will continue to carry out complex and covert operational activities to ensure the security of Israeli citizens.”
Kohavi, along with the head of the Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, Commando Brigade commander. Col. Mennie Liberty and the unit’s commander Lt.-Col. A also visited the unit’s troops and commanders and spoke with them about the deadly incident and the military’s obligation to carry out a thorough investigation of its circumstances.
“Last week the unit experienced a very difficult incident in which we lost two excellent commanders. Losing a soldier as a company commander or as chief of staff is the same thing. My heart was heavy that night just like your heart,” Kohavi said. He added that the military must do everything it can to carry out a probe and prevent other incidents.
“Egoz is a strong and professional unit, composed of people with quality and experience. I understand the difficult feelings and at the same time, you must take the awful event and come out of it stronger, all of you together. Egoz was an excellent unit, and I trust that you will be even more as a result of this incident,” Kohavi added.
Describing the unit like a walnut (after which the unit is named), Lt.-Col. “A.” said that the unit is “hard and tough on the outside and soft with a heart of gold on the inside.” He said troops are returning to operational activities and that the unit’s “fighters and commanders are characterized by exceptional resilience.”