Tank Crush Soldiers’ Cars, Spotlights Israeli Friendly-fire Deaths

An Israeli tank ran over vehicles belonging to reserve soldiers in the car park of the Karem Abu Salem crossing point. 

If this points to anything, it shows the growing nervousness of the Israeli soldiers, especially since this accident occurred on the Israeli side of the crossing point going into the Gaza Strip.

The incident has been reported by Israel’s Channel 12, Friday, and is trending on social media. The tank crushed the vehicles completely as reported by the Jerusalem Post showing a photo of the vehicles at the scene.

Brigadier General Elias Hanna of Al Jazeera says this is a minor incident compared to the Israeli soldiers who have been killed by friendly-fire since the war on Gaza started after 7 October.

He said on Al Jazeera satellite channel that since the Israeli troop deployment on the streets of Gaza, at least 46 soldiers were reported killed in friendly-fire accidents in the terrain of Gaza.

This number of those of friendly fire accidents may be deliberately under-reported by Israeli army sensors. These accidents shows the seriousness of the problem coming weeks after when five soldiers were killed by their own fire in north Gaza while battling Hamas and Palestinian resistance fighters.

Bloggers on social media say the number of Israeli soldiers have increased to at least 50. One blogger says the soldiers “are killing their own by mistake,” and such fatal shooting is “mostly because of unpreparedness and shooting out of fear” as newly reserved soldiers have “neither the experience nor the balls.”

Another points to the fact, with the figures up till 30 May that “almost one in five soldiers are shot by their own side.”

He may have been quoting an earlier article from NPR and written last January, that’s four months into the war on Gaza, that nearly one fifth of Israeli soldiers’ deaths in Gaza related to “friendly-fire accidents, accounting for 36 of the 188 soldiers killed” then with experts saying this is “one of the highest such percentages in recent military history.”

Experts quoted by NPR suggests that the high friendly-fire deaths relate to the “urban combat” and “highly-dense area” of Gaza coupled, the “very loose rule of engagement” adopted by the Israeli army, the lack of experience of Israeli reserves fighting in urban combat and the fact that many soldiers fighting in Gaza are from their late teens to their young 20s.

These factors increase friendly-fire accidents, particularly in this war and with the political leaders breathing down the army these soldiers have had very little training, especially in combat areas like Gaza.

The result of such deaths increased the funerals and mourners in Israel with many Jews increasingly opposed to the war and with 100s of Jewish parents writing to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to excuse their sons from serving in Gaza.  

Dr Marwan Asmar is an Amman-based writer covering Middle East affairs

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