A year after Cpl. Gilad Schalit was abducted by Hamas terrorists, a sleeping Golani infantry soldier was left behind following an operation in the Gaza Strip last week and was only located after his unit had already returned to Israel. According to a preliminary investigation conducted by OC Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Moshe Tamir, the soldier, from Golani's 51st Battalion, participated in an operation last Thursday near Khan Yunis in which troops killed five Palestinian gunmen and uncovered large arms caches. Following the operation, the force, led by a platoon commander, began to return to Israel. According to the preliminary investigation, when the soldiers counted down to ensure that they were all present, one of the soldiers accidentally called out the missing soldier's number.
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After the soldiers crossed back into Israel they realized that one their comrades was missing. They began searching for him at their base, but soon discovered he had been left in Gaza.
"This is a very severe incident," an IDF officer said Sunday. "These failures are unnecessary and should not be happening. Especially considering the fact that Israel already has one missing soldier in Gaza."
After realizing that the soldier had been left behind, the battalion commander immediately alerted other units deployed along the border to ensure that the soldier was not be mistakenly identified as a Palestinian gunman and shot.
After searching for close to an hour, the soldier, who fired tracer bullets into the air and was waving a florescent stick-light, was located some 700 meters inside Palestinian territory. The soldiers who found him said he was exhausted and scared.