The commander of the Paratroopers Brigade's reconnaissance battalion as well as other officers were questioned about the incident in which Evyatar Yosefi, 20, drowned in Nahal Hilazon near Karmiel early Monday morning. Some of the officers were questioned under caution.
In their initial questioning, the officers rejected the claims that they had exercised poor judgment by approving the navigation exercise, saying the training received the green-light after consultations with the relevant professionals and after soldiers were briefed on safety instructions. Moreover, the officers said the soldiers had been instructed not to cross streams during the navigation.
"The navigation mission went ahead with the understanding that it was safe to cross the Hilazon stream in light of previous navigation exercises in this area. Nevertheless, the soldiers were instructed not to cross the stream. There was no need or justification to do that," one of the officers said during the questioning.
In addition, the soldier who was with Yosefi when he slipped into the swollen stream and another soldier who witnessed the incident gave their testimony to the CID.
The CID is expected to collect testimonies from additional soldiers in Yosefi's company, which is in its final stages of training.
The commanding officers will likely face punitive measure even if the investigation finds they acted according to protocol.
Footage obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth shows the unusually strong currents in the Hilazon stream on the day of the incident, which was between half a meter to one meter deep due to the heavy rainfall.
In the wake of the tragedy, Ground Force Commander Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak halted all navigation training, and GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan ordered the formation of a team of experts, headed by Etzioni Brigade Commander Col. Oren Simcha, to investigation the incident.
On Tuesday, some of the officers met with Yosefi's family, who demanded to know why the exercise was given the go-ahead amid stormy weather.
The IDF said in a statement that "the CID continues its investigation in tandem with the questioning of the commanding officers and with the work of the military experts' committee. When the investigation is completed, its findings will be presented and lessons will be learned."
Among other things, safety instructions will likely be amended ahead of future navigation exercises carried out in stormy weather and rocky terrain.
Yosefi grew up in Tel Aviv and attended the Bnei Akiva yeshiva in Bnei Brak. The yeshiva said he was "a well-manner boy with a permanent smile, very beloved by his friends and teachers."