At least 20 soldiers were killed by friendly fire or accidents during the ground operation in the Gaza Strip, representing one-fifth of all fatalities, according to data released by the IDF on Tuesday.
With the intense fighting in the Strip, thousands of IDF soldiers are maneuvering in very densely populated areas. The IDF was aware that the danger was particularly significant during the night, as there was difficulty in distinguishing between friend and foe. The IDF invests heavily in addressing this challenge, including through technological markers found on almost every soldier in the field.
According to the IDF’s report, 13 soldiers were killed by friendly fire after being mistaken for enemy combatants, one from a stray bullet and another six in various accidents, such as being run over by armored vehicles.
At least one was killed by an Israeli airstrike when an attack helicopter fired on a building where soldiers were located last week.
The IDF doesn’t publish the full information on this incident due to various investigations still being examined in the IDF. In total, 105 soldiers have fallen in the ground operation so far. The army estimates that several hundred additional soldiers were wounded by friendly fire or operational accidents in enemy territory.
The new figure of 20 casualties who fell specifically from operational accidents or friendly fire is minimal and doesn’t refer to the first three weeks preceding the ground escalation, regarding the casualties on October 7, nor does it include other fronts. For example, an IDF officer was killed as a result of a friendly fire incident near Qalqilya at the beginning of the war, and other soldiers were killed as a result of a tank turnover near the Lebanon border.
Casualties fell as a result of friendly fire on October 7, but the IDF believes that beyond the operational investigations of the events, it would not be morally sound to investigate these incidents due to the immense and complex quantity of them that took place in the kibbutzim and southern Israeli communities due to the challenging situations the soldiers were in at the time.
The military said in a statement that efforts are constantly being made to prevent casualties from friendly fire and operational accidents by investigating these accidents and issuing lessons to thousands of soldiers in the Strip.