IDF investigation into Hezbollah Kornet attack finds failures

The missile strike occurred on August 1, the first day back to school in Israel. An IDF general said that “The ambulance being there was a major operational mistake.”

Footage of Hezbollah anti-tank missile attack on IDF vehicle near Avivim in Galilee (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/ AL MANAR)
Footage of Hezbollah anti-tank missile attack on IDF vehicle near Avivim in Galilee
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT/ AL MANAR)
The military investigation into a Hezbollah missile strike on an IDF ambulance along the northern border has led to disciplinary action against several senior officers, after a series of significant failures were found.
The two-month long investigation into the incident on September 1 was led by Head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram and included all levels of the military.
The investigation found “deficiencies in the battalion’s command and control processes during deployment, and that despite instructions from his commanders, the deputy battalion commander approved the movement of the specific military vehicle on the prohibited axis. In addition, the inquiry indicates that the regional brigade conducted insufficient monitoring and supervision over the movement on the roads.”
Following the investigation, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi decided to reprimand the battalion’s deputy commander for authorizing travel on a prohibited road. The battalion commander will also be reprimanded for the way in which he evacuated and protected Camp Avivim, which was not done according to procedures and allowed for the entry of civilians into the empty base.
In addition, the Chief of Staff stated that those involved in the incident, among them the commander of the regional brigade and officers in the artillery battalion, will be summoned to their commanders for clarifications.
In late July, the Israel Air Force struck an Iranian cell planning to launch a drone attack against northern Israel, killing two Hezbollah operatives. Several days later, Israel was blamed for a drone attack on Hezbollah in its Beirut stronghold which, according to a report by The Times, targeted Hezbollah’s precision-missile project, including crates with machinery to mix high-grade propellant for precision guided missiles.
According to Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman, the military knew that Hezbollah would retaliate for the IAF strike and had prepared accordingly with “threat-adapted defense and the deployment of forces throughout the area, along with blocking of roads. [This] made it difficult for the enemy to identify and hit targets over the course of many days.”
On September 1, the first day back to school in Israel, Hezbollah fired a Kornet anti-tank missile towards an IDF vehicle in the North driving between the communities of Yir’on and Avivim, a road which was clearly open to such missiles.
“The ambulance being there was a major operational mistake,” Zilberman said.
Due to the failures found in the investigation, Kochavi has now set standards to how the military should respond to errors in three different situations: routine, operational activity and operational activity under fire.
“The Chief of Staff emphasized that in operational activities, the attitude towards mistakes should be eased compared to during routine, [because] during operational activity in general, and under fire in particular, there is room to consider the duress and characteristics of the operational activities,” the military said. “The decision-making process, in preparation for defending against anti-tank fire during the evacuation of the Avivim Base, can be defined as operational, but not under fire. The Chief of Staff finds it appropriate to comment on the command method of a number of commanders for their incorrect decision-making, as well as support those commanders operating in the field.”
The investigation concluded that combat preparations achieved their objectives, the IDF said, adding that “at the same time, the Chief of Staff determined that the movement of a military vehicle beyond a roadblock in front of enemy-controlled territory was a serious operational failure.”
While there were no Israeli casualties or injuries, the incident marked the first time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 when there was direct confrontation between the IDF and Hezbollah that could have spiraled into war.