Reserve soldier Staff Sgt. Husam Tafash told his father he wanted to follow in his footsteps into a military career. After finishing his mandatory army service, Tafash returned as a reserve soldier and driver. On Sunday, Tafash set off a hand grenade, killing himself and lone soldier Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow from a combat engineering unit, who was standing nearby on guard duty.
Rindenow had made aliyah two years ago from New Jersey. He came from a large family with nine brothers and sisters, five of whom also made Aliyah and served in combat positions. As a lone soldier, he had an adoptive family in Kibbutz Sde Yoav. Friends from the kibbutz described him as "a good-looking guy who always had a shy smile on his face."
Rindenow's brother Jeff also lives in Israel. He talked about the kind of child his brother was: "Shlomo was a kid who was all heart. He came to Israel a year early to volunteer with a special canine search and rescue unit."
Jeff shared that he was still trying to make sense of his brother's death. "It's going to take us a long time to process this. His loved his engineering service and saw it as a challenge. We would see each other all the time, during holidays, Shabbat and birthdays."
Hundreds of people came to the northern Druze village of Beit Jann to offer their condolences to the Tafash family. Husam's father spoke about the effort he put into returning into the army only one month prior. "Husam was a standup guy, a very good-natured kid who like to help everyone."
The father said that Husam was planning on going away with his brothers and cousins when he was called up to the base. "He said he preferred to go on the mission than to go out, and that they would have fun next Saturday. He told them he needed to help out, so he packed up his bag and went to the base so that his friend would be able to leave."
According to an IDF investigation on the matter, the vehicle's driver found the grenade, held it and then exploded for a yet unknown reason. An initial suspicion was that the explosion was the result of an argument between Tafash and another soldier; however his cousin stressed that the brigade commander assured his family that it was ruled to have been an accident.
In addition to Tafash and Rindenow, the unit commander was moderately injured and two more soldiers were lightly injured.
The IDF Ground Forces and Northern Command set up a team headed by Commander of the 3rd Division Col. Yoav Yarom to look into the incident. The IDF is currently looking into Husam's background and interviewing the two soldiers who were lightly injured as to what transpired prior to the explosion, in addition to why Husam was holding a grenade to begin with, something that went against IDF protocol.