Date: 06/01/2009, 10:27 AM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

UPDATED: Jan. 6, 12:10

During fierce fighting on Monday night (Jan. 5) by Golani Brigade combat soldiers against Hamas operatives in the northern Gaza Strip, two soldiers and an officer were killed. This was the result of an IDF (Zahal) artillery shell firing erroneously and hitting the structure where the soldiers were located. Major Dagan Vartman, 32, from Maale Mahash, will be laid to rest Tuesday (Jan. 6) at 15:30 at the Mount Hertzel military cemetery. Staff Sergeant Nitai Shatran, 21, from Jerusalem, will be laid to rest Tuesday at 13:30, also on Mount Hertzl. And Corporal Yoseph Moadi, 19, from Haifa, will be laid to rest Tuesday at 15:00 at the Yarka cemetery.

During the same incident 24 soldiers were wounded. One soldier was critically wounded, three others were severely wounded and the 20 other soldiers were lightly to moderately injured in the incident. The injured soldiers received initial medical treatment in the field before being evacuated by helicopters and vehicles to hospitals in Israel. Heavy IDF (Zahal) artillery fire provided cover for the evacuation.

In the hours following the incident, other explanations were taken into consideration as the cause of this incident (including that the explosion was caused by the structure being rigged with Hamas’s explosives, or by an enemy anti-tank missiles) which were later ruled out.

The Golani Brigade Commander, Colonel Avi Peled, who sustained light injuries in the incident, oversaw the evacuation in the field and directed the artillery and aerial cover via communication systems. Only after all the injured soldiers were evacuated did the brigade commander seek medical attention for himself.