The IDF announced Monday that two junior officers from the elite Maglan Special Forces unit have been removed from their positions following two training accidents that occurred in recent weeks.
Brig. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, the commander of 98th Paratroopers Division, headed the investigation of the two incidents that resulted in the injury of two soldiers, one of whom seriously.
The investigation determined that an incident in which a combat soldier was injured during a Krav Maga training session resulted from a demonstration given without protective equipment, noting that conduct was unprofessional and improper.
Following the injury, all Krav Maga exercises were halted until further professional training for all instructors and commanders. Furthermore, additional supervision procedures for Krav Maga training were established.
In light of the severity of the events and the findings of the investigation, and after consultation with GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, Finkelman ordered the removal of Lieutenant G., the commander of the soldier's squad. The investigation found his actions negligent, following his decision not to evacuate the soldier after he was wounded.
In the investigation of the second and more serious incident—in which a soldier was seriously injured after jumping from a Hummer jeep into thorn bushes at the end of a training session—it was determined that the injury was caused the jump itself.
The division commander stated that the action was improper, unprofessional, unethical, dangerous and unnecessary. Lieutenant Y., the squad leader, was also dismissed from command due to his professional and ethical responsibility for the event.
The company commander of the two injured soldiers, Captain Y., received a reprimand in his personal file from the division commander, and the investigation findings will be brought to the Military Advocate General's Office, who will decide whether to launch a Criminal Investigations Division (CID) probe.
Parents of some of the soldiers in the unit came out against the investigation, arguing that “finding a scapegoat is not enough,” and called to discipline senior commanders in Maglan as well.
Despite many testimonies about a tradition in the unit during “camouflage week” of soldiers jumping into the bushes in order to "get over the fear," only two squad leaders paid the price.
According to testimonies, high-ranked officers in Maglan knew about this tradition. The commander of the unit, a lieutenant colonel, and his superior officer, Col. Avi Blot, who was recently appointed the military secretary for the prime minister, suffered no consequences following the events.
A CID investigation remains an option, while Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek examines the investigation findings to determine whether there was negligent conduct that endangered human life.
After the investigation, the division commander instructed the Commando Brigade to stop all training and ordered all training plans to be examined. In addition, Finkelman ordered intensive safety training among team and squad leaders and soldiers in the brigade.
Meantime, an investigative team headed by Brig. Gen. Itai Virov will examine regular conduct in Maglan and other IDF special units. Furthermore, GOC Army Headquarters Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak will appoint another team to investigate the Krav Maga training incident.
The IDF said that both unit and division commanders are in touch with the families of the injured soldiers.
"Maglan is a professional unit that leads operational efforts day and night on many missions in all combat sectors and has received a certificate of excellence from the GOC Central Command. The IDF faces necessary risks in order to carry out its operational tasks, and it is neither acceptable nor professional to endanger soldiers in routine training and routine activities. The IDF takes these two events seriously and will examine them thoroughly,” the army said.