Israeli Soldier Slain, 2 Injured by ‘Friendly Fire’ in Lebanon

<i> Associated Press</i>

An Israeli soldier was killed and two others were wounded before dawn Wednesday when one army unit mistakenly opened fire on another in southern Lebanon, an army commander said.

The two Israeli units had started out on patrol together in Israel’s self-declared security zone but were separated when one group lost its way.

“The rear unit separated from the front forces and mistakenly thought they were terrorists,” Brig. Gen. Etti Eitan, an army commander in the area, told Israel Radio.

“The rear force opened fire on the front force . . . and as a result of this, people were hurt,” Eitan said.


Eitan said the rear unit had requested and received permission from the base commander to open fire.

The dead soldier was identified as Staff Sgt. Ohad Zach, 19, from the northern village of Nofit.

Israel has occupied the zone since 1985 to prevent cross-border guerrilla attacks. With casualties rising, public pressure has been mounting to withdraw Israel’s 2,000 soldiers in Lebanon.

Zach’s mother told Israel Radio that army commanders had ignored warnings from soldiers that there were problems with path-finding and orientation within the unit.