Two Israeli soldiers were killed and three others were injured by a grenade explosion on Sunday morning near the entrance to a military outpost in the Golan Heights.
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The Israeli army said it was investigating the incident, which is considered highly irregular. The families of the deceased have been notified.
One of the two killed in the incident was Sgt. Shlomo Rindenow, 20, a lone soldier from New Jersey who lived in Kibbutz Sde Yoav. He was part of the Engineering Corps Battalion 601. The other soldier was Sgt. 1st Class Husam Tafash, 24, from Beit Jann, a member of the Regional Hermn Brigade. The three wounded soldiers were in light to moderate condition.
The incident took place at approximately 7 A.M. on Sunday, outside a military outpost near Majdal Shams, a Druze village located on the foothills of Mount Hermon.
A preliminary investigation showed that Tafash, the driver of the jeep, stopped near at the entrance to the outpost after returning from patrol in the sector. Tafash, who recently returned to the military as a career soldier, stepped out of the vehicle holding a grenade, walked to the other side of the vehicle and approached Rindenow, who was standing outside the outpost. The two then had an exchange, apparently about the grenade, when it suddenly went off.
An initial probe suggests that the safety protocol on keeping the grenades in the soldiers' vests might have been violated. It's yet unclear how the grenade made it into Tafash's hands, and it's possible that he found it in the vehicle.
The three wounded soldiers were waiting for the driver in the jeep. One of them, the commander of the patrol who was sitting in the passenger's seat, suffered moderate wounds since his door was open. The two other soldiers were lightly wounded.
Medical teams provided initial care to the soldiers in the field, which were later transferred by a helicopter to Rambam Medical Center, Haifa.
A team headed by Col. Yoam Yarom was assigned to further examine the circumstances surrounding the incident. The military has yet to determine why the driver of the patrol was holding the grenade in his hand when he stepped out of the jeep and approached the entrance of the outpost.
Rindenow was reportedly the fifth of his brothers to travel to Israel and serve in a combat role in the army. One of his other brothers is currently serving in the IDF, according to the OnlySimchas site. His family is expected to travel to Israel for his funeral, the report said.
Hundreds of people arrived at the Tafash home in Beit Jann to pay their respects following the incident on Sunday. His cousin, Fares Tafash, described the soldier as a "kid with joie de vivre," and said he was only supposed to be back in the army on Sunday, but was called up a day early.
Approximately one year ago, a grenade exploded by accident near a group of soldiers on the Gaza border. An officer who was at the scene saw the grenade fall from a combat vest, kicked it, and yelled for the soldiers to get down. No one was hurt in the incident.