Cleared for publication: Three IDF soldiers were killed and 24 others were injured, one critically and three seriously on Monday evening, in a friendly fire incident in northern Gaza.
Among the fatalities were two officers and a soldier. Colonel Avi Peled, commander of the Golani Brigade sustained minor injuries in the incident.
One of the soldiers killed in the incident was identified as Corporal Yosef Muadi, 19, of Haifa. He will be laid to rest at 3 pm at the Bircha cemetery.
The injured were triaged and cared for on site before being airlifted to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem and the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. All of the families have been notified.
According to the IDF Spokesman's Unit, the grave incident occurred when a tank, deployed as part of Operation Cast Lead,
accidentally fired a live round at an abandoned building in Jabalya, in which Golani forces, who were operating in the area, took cover.
According to available information, shortly after 6 pm, a blast took out part of the building, causing some of its walls to collapse and injuring the entire force.
Earlier Monday, the IDF explored the possibility that the building collapsed due to the detonation of explosives in it – an option which was ruled out as the details of the incident unfolded.
Casualties rushed to hospital (Photo: Reuters)
The injured were extracted under the cover of heavy IDF artillery fire and with the assistance of IAF helicopters which dropped illuminating bombs in order light their way.
Colonel Peled reportedly refused to leave the scene despite his injuries, opting to see to the rescue and triage of his troops. He sought medical care only after the last of his troops were evacuated.
Peled's conduct and actions, said an IDF source, show courage and "personified the kind of behavior the IDF expects of its commanders in such times."
Peled, a former Egoz Brigade and Battalion 51 head, assumed command of Golani last summer. Prior to his Golani assignment Peled headed the Gaza Division's southern brigade. It was during that time that Gilad Shalit was
kidnapped by Hamas, but a subsequent military inquiry found no fault in Peled's conduct.