The Jerusalem Post

Soldier killed by friendly fire mistaken for infiltrato­r

Initial probe shows Natan Fitoussi shot after comrade apparently followed protocol


St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi, who was killed by friendly fire near the West Bank Palestinia­n city of Tulkarm late Monday night, was laid to rest at the Netanya Military Cemetery on Tuesday evening.

The 20-year-old soldier had lived in Netanya after immigratin­g to Israel from France. He was serving in the Kfir Brigade as a sergeant and was promoted posthumous­ly to staff sergeant.

According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav, Fitoussi had left his guard post, and when he returned, a fellow soldier did not recognize him and went through the procedure for engaging suspicious individual­s but ultimately shot him.

A few hours later, Kochav said that it has not yet been definitive­ly determined whether correct procedure was followed and that the incident was still under investigat­ion.

The tragedy was initially reported as a Palestinia­n shooting attack carried out from a passing vehicle. T he IDF quickly updated that report to say the shooting was a case of friendly fire.

The commander of the Nachshon Battalion, Ran Cohen, eulogized Fitoussi on Tuesday evening. “We stand here today shocked and pained by Natan’s tragic fall. Shocked and pained by your untimely passing. Together with your family you immigrated to Israel,

and chose to enlist in a significan­t role as a soldier in the Kfir Brigade,” Ynet reported him as saying.

“You went through difficult training, you were a soldier imbued with motivation, desire and pride who took a significan­t part in the defense of the State of Israel and its citizens,” Cohen said. “Natan, my heart breaks from talking about you in the past tense. You were a good and beloved friend, the first to volunteer for any mission.

“There are no words in my mouth that can describe the pain, and there is no comfort in them,” he said. “We will continue to walk with you forever. I promise that we will do everything in our power to stand by your side to strengthen. Natan, dear warrior, I salute you on

your last journey. You will forever be a part of us.”

Fitoussi was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where he was pronounced dead. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi is expected to visit the site of the incident as part of the military’s investigat­ion.

“Unfortunat­ely, the fighter died of his wounds in the hospital,” a senior military officer said. “As far as we understand, the soldier was hit by two bullets, and one of them was fatal. At first, they thought it was fired from the Palestinia­n side, but later we ruled out the suspicion of an attack.”

Kohavi held an initial investigat­ion of the incident on Tuesday afternoon with a number of IDF commanders.

 ?? (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90) ?? MOURNERS ATTEND the funeral yesterday of St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi at the Netanya Military Cemetery.
(Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90) MOURNERS ATTEND the funeral yesterday of St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi at the Netanya Military Cemetery.

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