Skip to main content

2 Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire

The incident comes less than a week after two Israeli pilots were killed in a helicopter crash off Haifa.
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images

Two Israel Defense Force officers were killed in a friendly fire accident near a base in the West Bank on Wednesday night, Israel’s military said.

Ofek Aharon, 28, and Itamar Elharar, 26, died after being shot by a third person they approached during a patrol outside the IDF base at Nabi Mussa on the Dead Sea around 11 p.m. Both were majors and company commanders.

The shooter was another IDF officer, the military said, who mistook his two comrades for attackers. The IDF originally said the two had attempted to arrest the other officer, but then retracted that statement. 

The head of IDF Central Command, Yehuda Fuchs, said military investigators believe the third officer opened fire first, according to the Times of Israel.

Last year the IDF relaxed its rules of engagement in response to a series of break-ins and thefts at Israeli bases, allowing soldiers to open fire at suspected smugglers and thieves.

The incident, which is under investigation, came one day after a reported break-in and theft of military equipment at the base. But Fuchs reportedly said there was no connection between this incident and the new rules of engagement. 

Last week, two Israeli helicopter pilots were killed in a crash off the coast of the port city of Haifa. A third crew member was hospitalized with injuries. The IDF said the crash was caused by a fire that broke out in one of the engines of the helicopter, an Atalef AS565 Panther.

The separate accidents follow a slight increase in IDF casualties over the past year. In 2021, 31 soldiers died, and 28 the year prior. Suicide remains the leading cause of death in the IDF.

Yesterday, the US administration urged an investigation into the death of a 80-year-old Palestinian man with US citizenship after he was detained by the IDF.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial