Soldier died in friendly fire incident in part due to safety failures - IDF

St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi had left his guard post to pray and upon returning was misidentified and shot by another soldier.

 St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi who was killed by friendly fire. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi who was killed by friendly fire.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

An Israel Defense Forces investigation into the friendly-fire death of St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi in mid-August found that improper safety procedures contributed to the accidental shooting and the soldier's death, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a Wednesday morning statement.

The military said that soldiers had been split from their "iron pairing" or set partners in the unit. Israeli infantry doctrines hold that no soldier is supposed to be in operations alone, but are assigned pairs and numbers to ensure safety and security.

"We're talking about a serious and difficult incident that could have been prevented."

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi.

The soldier that shot Fitoussi did not meet operational norms expected of an Israeli combat soldier, the IDF said, and would be removed from his combat position.

"We're talking about a serious and difficult incident that could have been prevented. The review brought up deficiencies in professional regulations and discipline expected of IDF soldiers," Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said.

The IDF said that it would be refining the rules regarding "iron pairings" and those for opening fire.

 Funeral of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Funeral of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The death of Fitoussi 

Fitoussi had reportedly left his guard post near the West Bank Palestinian city of Tulkarem to pray, and upon returning to his post was misidentified and shot by the soldier.

Immediately after shooting, when the soldier realized that he had misidentified him, he reported the incident to his commanders, who called medics to the scene. 

The medics provided initial treatment in the field and after many resuscitation attempts, Fitoussi was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Fitoussi, 20, had lived in Netanya after immigrating to Israel from France. He was serving in the Kfir Brigade as a sergeant when he was killed and was promoted to staff sergeant posthumously.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.