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Reservist On Building Collapse: “If Protocol Was Heeded, 14 Soldiers Would Still Be Alive”

A reserve soldier who fought in Gaza near the tragic building collapse that killed 21 soldiers earlier this week told Ynet that if the soldiers had worked in accordance with safety regulations, 14 soldiers would still be alive.

Earlier this month, six soldiers were killed when IDF tank fire accidentally triggered the detonation of a tunnel while the soldiers were still in it. Following the tragic incident, soldiers were instructed never to stay in a home while it was being rigged for demolition unless they were carrying out the work.

However, according to the reservist, these orders weren’t heeded. “The operation should have been simple,” the reservist said. “The soldiers enter the houses, occupy the houses, make sure there are no explosives or tunnel shafts, and then the soldiers who rig the houses with explosives arrive. The first soldiers exit. The moment, the soldiers finish rigging the building, the entire force leaves and then they detonate the buildings.”

“What essentially happened here is that the soldiers occupying the houses remained inside. The operation went smoothly and quickly, everything worked perfectly. These are soldiers who have done this dozens or even hundreds of times in the past. In this case, an anti-tank terror cell arrived [and threw an RPG missile which exploded the building prematurely]. It caught them by surprise because an active terror cell less than a thousand meters from the security fence [at the Israeli-Gazan border] was very unlikely. If they had followed protocol, 14 soldiers would have been saved. So many soldiers were at a scene with explosives in violation of safety procedures.”

The reservist added that one safety procedure that was heeded saved dozens of lives. “All the houses are connected, and at the end, you press one switch and everything explodes. But they sever the connection between the explosives, between house and house. If that safety regulation had been disregarded, soldiers from two or three companies would have been killed in this incident because all the buildings would have exploded together.”

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that the large number of soldiers who were present at the demolition scene will be the central focus of the investigation into the incident.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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