IDF cuts down army accidents in 2005

Noting a sharp drop in the number of accidents involving accidental discharges from soldier's personal weapons, the IDF Ground Forces Command on Monday presented its annual report on safety awareness within the military. A total of 109 military-related accidents were noted in 2005 and 151 soldiers were injured. Eight soldiers were killed in 2005 compared to 10 soldiers who died in accidents in 2004. One of the soldiers killed was St.-Sgt. Ran Hendifer, whose Merkava tank overturned during a training exercise in September. Of those injured, the army said 25 percent fell off jeeps and banged their heads, or slammed the door of an armored personal carrier on their fingers. The army noted that car accidents were the primary cause of injuries within the IDF. In total 101 soldiers were injured in car accidents over the past year compared to 95 soldiers who were injured in 2004. The army took particular pride in its success in lowering the number of accidental discharges from military-issued rifles. In 2005, the army reported 149 discharges, compared to 359 in 2004. In total 14 soldiers were injured. Calling most of the military accidents that occurred during training sessions "backyard mishaps," Col. Gvaram Haglili, head of IDF Ground Forces Safety Division, said most of the accidents could have been prevented if the soldiers had followed proper procedures. While the army intended to continue cracking down on soldiers who played with their weapons and accidentally discharged bullets, Haglili said the IDF planned to get harsh with the growing phenomenon of soldiers who steal IDF jeeps and take them for "joyrides." Ten accidents involving IDF vehicles stolen by soldiers were noted in 2005. Calling the trend "pure criminal activity," Haglili said the army intended to also take action against the friends of the soldiers who stole the vehicles. "This needs to stop," the officer said. "The soldiers think it is a game and a prank but in the end they get hurt."