Though the investigation of the tank accident
that took place Wednesday in the Golan Heights during a training exercise is still ongoing, human error is already being indicated as the culprit. Sergeant Uriel Librant died when the tank flipped over into a ditch.
The option that a technical error in the tank or the portable bridge used to help it cross the ditch into which it fell caused the accident has been ruled out. It remains to be seen whether the error was made within the tank crew itself or by the officer directing it from outside. The investigation revealed that 17 tanks passed over the portable bridge during the exercise prior to the tank that flipped over.
The tank that flipped over on Wednesday (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
The tank apparently flipped over after crossing at least one third of the portable bridge, which is 12 meters (about 39 feet) long, and fell into the three meter (about 9 feet) deep ditch. As a result, the tank commander, who was sitting in the turret with his head outside of the tank, was thrown from the vehicle and killed.
The accident occurred at around 5 am during a training exercise as part of the regiment and company commanders' course with the Armored Corps' 188th Brigade. The soldiers were practicing crossing an anti-tank trench with the help of a portable bridge laid across the ditch by Engineering Corps troops. An Engineering Corps commander stood outside the tank and directed the driver.
The possibility that poor visibility conditions negatively affected eye contact between the two is being examined.
The portable bridge laid down for the tank. (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
Details about the incident are still being collected, and it is possible that the tank crew members will be questioned Wednesday evening in a bid to understand what caused the tank to flip. The investigation was first carried out on the battalion level and will then be extended to the regiment level.
In addition, a team of experts led by Col. Itzik Cohen will also study the incident. The experts are expected to analyze the event from all aspects, to examine the shortcomings that took place, and even to draft recommendations in order to prevent similar occurrences from happening again.
Staff Sergeant Librant is the first casualty in an IDF training accident in more than a year and a half. In November 2007, two soldiers were killed within two days of each other in two separate accidents. Sergeant First Class Assaf Waxman was killed when an armed personnel carrier overturned in the Golan Heights, and Private Maayan Rotenberg was killed when his head got caught between a tank's turret and its cannon in Shizafon Base in the Negev. In Waxman's case, four officers were put on trial for negligent manslaughter. Their trial is currently being held.