IDF Soldier Killed, 4 Wounded From Friendly Fire Near Gaza Border

Soldiers were drawn into mortal combat with a group of militants apparently laying explosives on the border with Israel.

Israel Defense Forces soldier Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg, 20, was killed Friday and four were wounded when a mortar shot by IDF troops hit the soldiers near the Gaza security fence.

The wounded soldiers were treated on the spot and then evacuated by helicopter to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva.

wounded - Eliyahu Hershkovitz - January 7 2011
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

An IDF paratroopers patrol noticed a group of armed people approaching the barrier separating Gaza from Israel close to the Kibbutz Be'eri, according to the IDF. 

It is presumed that the armed group was planning to lay explosives at the foot of the barrier. The IDF had apparently launched the mortars at the militants who were observed on the border, but for some unknown reason one of the mortars strayed and struck the soldiers.

The family of Rotenberg, 20, of Moshav Ramot Hashavim was informed of his death. One of the soldiers was seriously wounded. The other three soldiers were lightly wounded.

A preliminary IDF investigation concluded that friendly-fire was responsible for the death of Sgt. Rotenberg and for the wounding of the other IDF soldiers.

An investigative team has already been appointed to look into the circumstances surrounding the fatal incident.

There has been a marked increase in violence in the region in the last few weeks, both from Palestinian attempts to wage attacks on Israel and from IDF actions in the area. On Wednesday night, IDF forces killed two Palestinians near the Gaza border. The IDF Spokesperson reported that the Palestinians were killed while trying to infiltrate into Israel.

On Tuesday, IAF planes bombed Gaza tunnels that are used to smuggle materials into the strip, and another site in central Gaza. The attack, a joint operation executed by the IDF and the Shin Bet, came as a response to rockets launched from Gaza into Israeli territory.