An IDF soldier from the Engineering Corps was killed at around noon today when an old anti-tank mine exploded in the southern Golan Heights. Two other soldiers sustained very mild injuries in the blast. The soldier who was killed was recruited only a few months ago.
The tragic incident occurred during the clearing of a minefield near Moshav Yonatan. Medical teams that were alerted to the scene pronounced the soldier’s death. The army has launched an investigation.
The mine clearing operation was part of an advanced training phase of the Engineering Corps, a senior army source said.
Engineering Corps soldiers routinely clear minefields in the Golan and Jordan Valley. The mine that exploded Tuesday was meant to target tanks and contained more explosive material than small mines designated to harm humans.
A senior Engineering Corps officer said the cause of the blast is still unknown. “It was not a mine that hasn’t been spotted before. It was exposed and marked (in advance of its clearance) today along with additional mines. It was an Israeli mine that we had information on,” he said.
The clearing of the minefield had no connection to the mounting tensions along Israel’s border with Syria. As part of the investigation, IDF Northern Command head Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan arrived at the scene of the blast, as did Ground Forces Commander Maj.-Gen. Guy Tzur, who appointed a team of experts to probe the incident.
In May 2007 a soldier who was serving at an Air Force base in the south was severely injured when he stepped on a mine in the Arava region. An investigation revealed he had inadvertently entered an IDF minefield.
In March 2011 the Knesset passed legislation requiring the removal of all known mines in Israel. The law was introduced after Israeli teenager Daniel Yuval was severely injured when a mine exploded as he was travelling with his family in the Golan Heights. Yuval’s leg had to be amputated.
Yuval became an Israeli ambassador for the cause of land-mine removal, speaking around Israel and at international forums on the problem of land mines.
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