The IDF has dismissed two officers in the elite unit following training accidents in which soldiers were seriously injured.
Following an investigation conducted Monday by Brig.-Gen. Yaron Finkelman, head of the 98th Paratroopers Division, two team commanders were dismissed and the commander of the platoon where the officers served was reprimanded.
In one incident, a soldier was moderately injured during a Krav Maga exercise conducted without proper authorization and without protective equipment.
According to reports, the soldier was punched in the stomach during the martial arts training exercise. While he complained of pain after being hit, he was not taken immediately to a hospital. Only after protesting that the pain was worsening did the unit officer permit him to be evacuated to a hospital.
The findings of the investigation led to the decision to dismiss the soldier’s commander, Lt. G., for “acting erroneously during the [Krav Maga] training and acting negligently by not sending the soldier for treatment” immediately after his injury.
Krav Maga exercises have been suspended until commanders and instructors undergo a “refresher” of the training commands, and new mechanisms for oversight and approval of Krav Maga training in the brigade are introduced, read a statement released by the IDF.
In the second incident, a soldier sustained a severe brain injury during a training exercise when his head hit a rock after he was ordered to jump from a moving Humvee into a thatch of thorns. The soldier was not wearing a helmet.
According to a report in Ynet news, jumping into a patch of thorns is a Maglan tradition, forcing new recruits to “face their fear” during special ambush missions.
The army determined that the “action was improper, unprofessional, immoral, dangerous and unnecessary,” and the team commander of the injured soldier, Lt. Y., was dismissed.
The parents of the soldier, who remains in critical condition in the neurosurgical intensive care unit at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where he is anesthetized and ventilated, told Ynet that jumping from a moving vehicle is “a stupid and dangerous tradition; everyone in the unit is aware of it, and no one forbids it.... They tell the fighters that the bushes are their mattress.”
The IDF said the findings of its investigation will be given to the military advocate-general to decide whether to open a Military Police investigation.
“The IDF takes risks in the face of the enemy as required to fulfill its operational duties. It is neither acceptable nor professional to unnecessarily endanger soldiers during training and routine activities,” read a statement by the IDF, adding that commanders were in touch with the families of the injured soldiers.
According to Ynet, the soldier’s parents plan to contest the army’s decision to dismiss lower-rank officers while ignoring the responsibility of senior officers.
“It’s inconceivable that the IDF is dismissing junior officers while keeping senior commanders in their positions,” the report quoted a relative of one of the soldiers as saying. “Everyone knew about this jumping tradition, and no one stopped it.”
Maglan (also known as Unit 212) is a special forces unit trained to operate behind enemy lines using advanced technologies and weaponry. The unit’s 18 months of training are among the most rigorous in the IDF.