(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
On December 27, 2004, IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Yaalon, in a conversation with the Egyptian Chief of Staff, personally relayed the conclusions of the investigation regarding the incident in which three Egyptian policemen were killed along the Israeli-Egyptian border near Rafah on November 18, 2004. Lieut. Gen. Yaalon again expressed his sorrow for the outcome of the event, and asked to reiterate his condolences to the families of the Egyptian policemen. The Chief of Staff updated his Egyptian counterpart of the findings of the incident as well as lessons learned and implemented as a result.
The conclusions of the investigation into the incident were presented by the GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, to the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieut. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, on December 2, 2004.
On November 18, 2004, IDF forces identified a cell of three Palestinians who arrived at the Israeli-Egyptian border near Rafah and attempted to plant an explosive device with the aim of detonating it against IDF forces patrolling the border. IDF forces opened fire at them and accidentally hit three Egyptian policemen who were nearby on the Egyptian side of the border. Immediately following the incident the IDF Chief of Staff, GOC Southern Command, as well as senior government officials all expressed sorrow for the outcome of the event and passed their condolences to the families of the Egyptian policemen.
With the completion of the inquiry the Chief of Staff emphasized the severity of the incident and has since accepted the conclusions of the GOC Southern Command’s investigation. The Chief of Staff added that the investigation highlights significant professional discrepancies at various levels. These failures relate on the one hand to professional failure of the IDF force regarding the method of operating tanks in that area, and failure in the control and command of the forces
The Chief of Staff stressed the need to assimilate lessons learnt from prior incidents, and stated that in this specific incident, conclusions from prior incidents in the region were not implemented. As a result of the incident, the Chief of Staff has instructed to ensure that forces in all regions are aware of the restrictions regarding the use of tank shells.
The Chief of Staff gave an official command reprimand to the chain of command involved in the incident, namely the southern brigade commander of the Gaza Strip, the battalion commander, the regional company commander and the commander of the tank that carried out the shooting.