'Officers were killed after a mistaken identification led to a friendly fire incident'
Two Israeli military officers were killed on Wednesday night in a friendly fire incident at a base in the Jordan Valley, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Thursday.
They were identified as Maj. Itamar Elharar, 26, and Maj. Ofek Aharon, 28.
The company commanders in the Oz Brigade’s Egoz Unit had just finished a drill in the firing zone of the Nabi Musa base when they identified a suspicious figure during a security patrol along the outside perimeter of the base and fired warning shots into the air as per official procedure.
The two were then shot and killed by another IDF soldier who was nearby and mistook them for possible terrorists attempting to infiltrate the base.
Medical personnel provided treatment on the ground, and they were evacuated by an Israeli Air Force (IAF) helicopter but were soon pronounced dead.
The IDF said that the "officers were killed after a mistaken identification led to a friendly fire incident."
The military said that it was still investigating the incident that is described as a "serious event."
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday morning expressed their condolences to the families of the two soldiers killed and promised a thorough investigation into the incident.
"It's a very sad morning. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the two officers who were killed last night in a tragic accident," Bennett said in a statement.
"The two commanders devoted their best years to Israel's security and defense of the homeland. The whole nation of Israel mourns. The IDF is investigating the difficult incident and the necessary lessons will be learned. May they rest in peace."
The incident comes two months after the military announced that it was loosening rules against shooting at suspects accused of stealing weapons and ammunition supplies, or intruders breaking into bases and firing ranges.
The deaths also come a week after two IAF helicopter pilots were killed in a crash off the coast of Haifa