An IDF soldier was killed in a friendly fire incident near the Arab city of Tulkarm overnight Monday, the IDF spokesperson stated early Tuesday morning.
The soldier was later identified as St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi, z’l, 20, of Netanya. He made aliyah with his family from France in 2014.
A preliminary investigation revealed that Fitoussi, who was on duty near the security barrier, left his post to daven Maariv, and when he returned, his friend mistook him for an armed terrorist and shot him after carrying out open-fire procedures, including ordering the suspect to halt, shooting into the air and at the legs, and only firing to kill if feeling threatened.
At this point, it is still unclear how the misidentification occurred. The two soldiers were several meters away from each other when the incident occurred. Soldiers have been in a high state of alert in recent days due to the operation in Gaza and the terror attack in Jerusalem on Motzei Shabbos.
Fitoussi, z’l, was evacuated to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba in critical condition but unfortunately, the doctors could do nothing but declare his death.
When the incident first occurred, IDF soldiers at nearby posts initially thought it was a shooting attack by Arabs, and Palestinian media reported that a large number of IDF troops arrived in Tulkarm and began searching for suspects.
But shortly later, it became clear that it was an incident of friendly fire.
IDF spokesperson Ron Kochav told 103FM Radio regarding the soldier who shot his friend: “It’s a tragedy from this side as well. These are two veteran soldiers who have been in the army for almost two years. Two soldiers from the same team, and they know each other well. He participated in the debriefings tonight with the division commander. We will take care of him and support him. He is the one who reported the incident immediately after it happened. The problem was not the instructions to open fire but a tragic mistake in identification. A full suspect arrest procedure was carried out. Human error, oversight, a mistake – a particularly unfortunate event.”
Staff Sgt. Natan Fitoussi, 20, was tragically killed last night by IDF fire near the Judea and Samaria security barrier.
We express our deepest condolences to his family and will continue to support them. pic.twitter.com/Ll7jOQDgiR
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 16, 2022
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)