IDF drill - IDF - 2008
Artillery exercise in Israel's south, July 15, 2008. Photo by IDF Spokesman's Office
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Eliyahu Hershkovitz
An IDF helicopter during a military drill in Israel's south, Nov. 30, 2011. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz

An errant volley of projectiles landed in the vicinity of a top Israel Defense Forces officer on Wednesday, in what preliminary reports say was a severe mishap during a large-scale drill in Israel's south.

IDF chief Benny Gantz stopped the drill after the projectiles exploded near GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi.

According to initial reports, two artillery rounds were fired out of predetermined safety limits, landing a few dozen meters from a vehicle carrying Maj. Gen. Mizrahi.

Gantz, who was in a lookout a few hundred meters away, immediately noticed the safety breach and ordered the drill to be stopped. Shortly after, the drill, involving a reserve infantry brigade, was resumed without the artillery component.

Army officials said that Gantz viewed the accident with the upmost severity, adding the IDF was investigating the incident.

In November of 1992, a grave mishap during an IDF drill in the Ze'elim base in southern Israel caused the death of five soldiers from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, in an incident since dubbed the "second Ze'elim disaster."

The drill was attended by then IDF chief and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Following that incident, Barak was criticized for allegedly leaving the scene of the incident before the wounded were evacuated.

According to foreign reports, the exercise simulated a scenario in which the elite unit would attempt an assassination of then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, using heat-seeking missiles.

Last year, an IDF soldier from the Givati Brigade was killed in a training accident in the Negev; in January of that year, a soldier was seriously injured when a comrade from his armored corp division accidentally dropped a 5 kilogram hammer on his head during training at their base in southern Israel.

Read this article in Hebrew: תקלה חמורה בתרגיל של צה"ל: פגזים נורו סמוך לרכבו של אלוף פיקוד מרכז