Two soldiers were killed on Sunday morning after a grenade exploded in the Golan Heights near them in the Hermon mountains. Another three soldiers, from the the 601st Combat Engineering Battalion, were taken to Rambam hospital in Haifa in serious and light-to-moderate condition.
One of the soldiers who was killed was reserve soldier Staff Sgt. Husam Tafash from Beit Jann, a Druze village on Mount Meron in northern Israel. The other soldier killed was lone soldier Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow from the combat engineering unit, a lone soldier who lived on Kibbutz Sde Yoav in south-central Israel. His brother lives in Netzer Hazani in central Israel while his parents live in New Jersey. Rindenow was one of ten children. Both families have been notified. Some of the injured were reserve soldiers.
An initial investigation stated that around 7:10am on Sunday morning, the military patrol jeep came from a routine brush cleaning operation on the border with Syria. The jeep approached an IDF outpost on the foothills of Mt. Hebron. There was the an altercation ensued between the driver and the soldiers on the force. At a certain point, as the jeep got close to the outpost, the driver got out of the jeep, pulled the pin out of a fragmentation grenade, and walked towards the commander's door. He then went to the front of the jeep, and when the commander's door opened, the driver pushed his way inside and released the grenade.
Initial reports suggest that the explosion took place inside a military jeep when a grenade accidentally detonated. However the exact circumstances are still being investigated as soldiers and officers are being questioned.
The Land Forces Division and IDF Northern Command set up a special investigations unit headed by the Commander of the 3rd Division, Col. Yoav Yoram to look into the exact circumstances of the event. There was an initial fear that the explosion was the result of an IED. However, a partial story has emerged after speaking with the two soldiers who were lightly injured in the incident.
"We don't know if there was a previous argument between the driver and the force commander," the high ranking officer said. "the direct circumstances are that the explosion occurred as a result of a thrown grenade."
The manager of the trauma center at Rambam hospital, Dr. Hani Bahus, said, “One of the wounded individuals is in moderate-to-serious-condition and is suffering from shrapnel wounds all over his body. He was taken into the operating room where therapists and orthopedic surgeons are taking care of him. The injuries have also been sustained in his upper body,” he continued.
Bahaus also said that the hospital received three wounded soldiers from the event: "One of them is in moderate to serious condition and suffers from shrapnel wounds all over his body. He has been sent to the operating room and is being treated by other orthopedic surgeons amongst others. The other two have light injuries. They have blast wounds, and are in the hospital under observation."
The other two individuals, he said, were in light condition suffering from injuries from the blast and were being treated by a doctor. “They are being hospitalized and are being observed. If nothing out of the ordinary happens, they should be able to be discharged within 24 hours.”
Additionally, Sunday was the first day of a major training exercise in the Golan Heights which is supposed to end on Tuesday. There will be higher than usual numbers of security forces in the region. The IDF says that the drill has been planned for a long time as part of normal operating drills for 2016 for the purpose of maintaining the readiness of IDF forces.