A sharp and concerning increase in misfire incidents in the IDF – internal data at the GOC Army Headquarters obtained by Ynet revealed on Monday. According to the information, soldiers have difficulty operating heavy equipment such as MAG and Negev machine guns, and once every four-and-a-half days, a dangerous incident takes place.
The good news is that no casualties have been reported in machine gun misfires, but the IDF admits that this is a concerning phenomenon that may lead to serious consequences.
In 2009, 142 misfires took place in the IDF, meaning that a bullet was accidentally discharged from a firearm once every two-and-a-half days. Work to curb the trend in the area of personal weapons has proven fruitful. Compared to 115 misfires from personal weapons in 2006 and 76 misfires in 2008, last year only saw 43 such incidents.
Casualties were noted in six of the incidents that took place last year – Sergeant Or Hadad of the Golani Brigade was killed when his comrade misfired his weapon while playing with it. Other soldiers were lightly to moderately hurt from accidental shootings.
While a drop in misfires from personal weapons was recorded, an increase in the number of misfires from machine guns was noted: Eighty-Four incidents were recorded in 2009, over twice as much as in the previous year, and the highest rate in recent years. These data refer to misfires from heavy machine guns such as MAGs and Negevs, which mainly took place during operational activity or training. Despite the fact that none of the incidents ended in injury, a military source told Ynet that this was nothing more than a miracle and that such an incident could easily end in serious injury and even death.
According to an IDF analysis of the data, only a small number of misfires occurred as a result of soldiers playing with their weapons. Most of the incidents were a result of lack of professionalism and poor handling of the heavy weapons.
The report also indicated which divisions suffered the most incidents, and showed that over half of the misfire incidents took place in the Armored Corps, and over a quarter of the incidents took place in infantry divisions.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: "Unfortunately, there is a rise in the number of machine gun misfires. It should be noted that the amount of training exercises has significantly risen in recent years, which leads to a higher probability of misfires. Nonetheless, we wish to emphasize that, luckily, no casualties were recorded in the incidents, and training is being held in machine gun operation. In addition, incidents which carry an educational value are studied among all the relevant units with a special emphasis in training and command courses."