Two IDF soldiers killed by grenade
Two Israeli soldiers – including a lone soldier from the United States – were killed and three others were injured in an accident early Sunday morning in the Golan Heights.
A live grenade carried in one of the soldier’s vests reportedly detonated inside a patrol jeep around the Hermon near the Syrian border.
The casualties have been named as 20-year-old Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow, a soldier in the 401 Brigade, originally from New Jersey, and 24-year-old St.-Sgt. Husam Tafish, of Beit Jann. OC Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, has appointed a commission to investigate the incident.
Rindenow had been living in the southern kibbutz of Sde Yoav.
The incident began on Sunday morning at the entrance to the Majdal Checkpoint, which is the first entry point to the Hermon region. The soldiers, from the IDF’s Combat Engineering Brigade, were in the area to secure a border road.
A senior IDF source provided preliminary details of the incident. According to the source’s account, an IDF David light armored vehicle, carrying soldiers and a commander from the 601 battalion – a part of the Combat Engineers Brigade – pulled over near the Majdal checkpoint position. The jeep came to a stop a meter away from the position’s concrete wall.
“At this stage, a conversation began, and the driver exited the vehicle, holding the grenade,” the source said. The driver, a reservist from the northern Druse village of Beit Jann, had previously served as a career military driver, and recently returned to service. As the driver walked around the front of the vehicle, holding the grenade, the lone soldier, who was part of the checkpoint personnel, stood between the jeep and the wall.
“We do not understand the circumstances of this event yet,” the source said. “The commander of the David vehicle then opened his door. At this time, the blast occurred.”
The explosion killed the driver holding the grenade, and the lone soldier standing between the jeep and the wall. The commander in the vehicle sustained serious injuries. Two additional soldiers were lightly wounded by shrapnel.
“This is a grave and difficult incident,” the source said.
The IDF assembled a committee to investigate the blast, headed by Col. Yoav Yarom, the commander of the Third Reserves Brigade. Senior officers from Northern Command, and the Ground Forces, will take part in the investigation.
While combat soldiers who take part in the clearing of border roads are armed with grenades, drivers of military vehicles are not. “We have to understand why he exited the vehicle holding the grenade,” the source said. “This is something the committee of experts will determine.