Disaster averted: Wednesday's misfire during a brigade-level Reserves exercise held in the IDF's Tzeelim Base was a lucky miss on what could have been an all-out disaster, an initial reports into the incident said.
During the drill two artillery shells landed outside the designated safety parameter, hitting the ground a 100-200 meters away from a group of soldiers and officers, including GOC Ground Forces Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman.
- Tammuz missile gets major upgrade
- IDF chief halts drill due to dangerous artillery fire
- IDF introduces new anti-tank missile
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz, who was present for the drill, suspended the maneuvers immediately and ordered an inquiry into the incident.
The exercise was resumed several hours later in "dry" form, i.e. with no live munitions.
The Brigade-level exercise, staged by reserve units, was launched a few days ago.
Initial analysis of the incident suggested that the stray shells landed two kilometers outside of the safety zone: "Safety parameters in these kinds of exercises usually range about 600-800 yards," a senior artillery officer told Ynet.
"The officers standing near (the landing site) could have easily been standing a lethal line of fire, which can spread several dozens of yards. Misfires happen, but in this case it was critical."
The Tzeelim Base was the unfortunate scene of two deadly training accidents in the past: The first, in 1990 claimed the lives of five reservists and the second, in 1992 left five Sayeret Matkal soldiers – the IDF's elite Special Forces unit – dead.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop