(Communciated by the IDF Spokesman)
A professional investigation team, headed by Brigadier General Yair Golan, had been appointed by the GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski, to investigate the incident in which a wanted senior Islamic Jihad operative was killed in Kfar Rabah, east of Jenin, on December 3, 2004. The team’s conclusions were presented to the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieut. Gen. Moshe Yaalon.
During the beginning of the investigation it was discovered that there were gaps between the operational procedures in the area and the acquaintance of the Naval Commando team with these procedures. As soon as these gaps were discovered, the operational procedures were reemphasized to the Naval Commando soldiers and to the soldiers of other combat units operating in the Central Command, as ordered by the GOC Central Command.
The GOC Central Command mentioned the excellent job done by the investigation team and emphasized the importance of a thorough inquiry, and the discovery of failures as a tool for learning and improving our operational capability. Moreover, as per the instructions given by the GOC Central Command, lessons learned from the event will be taught to all units operating in the Central Command.
The Chief of Staff concluded that while the actual incident was simple enough to investigate, the investigation itself was made complicated by efforts made to understand the decisions made by the Naval commando team at the time of the incident. The Chief of Staff also noted that any issues which arose during the initial inquiry were dealt with in depth immediately after the incident.
The Chief of Staff stressed that no ethical or moral mistakes were made during the Naval Commando team activity. Nevertheless, several professional errors occurred.
The Chief of Staff, GOC Central Command and the Commander of the Israeli Navy expressed their full confidence in the officers and soldiers of the Naval Commando team involved in the incident, and praised their operational activity in the fight against terror.
The Chief of Staff said he was aware that previous incidents similar to this one in which Navy Commando soldiers were killed could have affected the soldiers’ judgment in this case. Nevertheless, the Chief of Staff stressed that even in circumstances like those mentioned above, there is no justification for a failure to carry out or a deviation from orders. After the investigation was concluded, the Chief of Staff issued a command that the Commander of the Naval Commando be reprimanded, due to the gap in professional regulations.
In presenting his conclusions, the Chief of Staff emphasized that he has no doubt as to the excellence of the Naval Commando unit, that the unit takes part in the fight against terror with remarkable skill, and that despite the heavy price paid by the unit in the lives of the soldiers lost, the unit has operated on the highest professional level and has been an operational success.