A report Monday said that three IDF soldiers were arrested in recent weeks after they fell asleep while on guard duty on the northern border with Lebanon.
The soldiers were supposed to be guarding a section of the northern fence that was undergoing repairs and was partially open. The three were arrested and court-martialed, and sent to the brig, the report said. The soldiers' commander was also arrested, and spent 20 days under confinement, it added.
The incident occurred in the Metulla area, where the IDF has been building a new fence, parallel to the “Good Fence.” The new fence will separate agricultural areas west of Metulla from the Lebanese village of Kila. The purpose of the fence is to protect the towns and farms in the area from missiles fired by Hizbullah.
Construction of the fence, which is about a kilometer long, was interrupted at one point, leaving a hole in the barrier. The IDF, fearing that terrorists would take advantage of the opening, stationed several soldiers there during the overnight hours. The patrol operated for several nights, but on one night when a commanding officer came to inspect the area, they were found sleeping in their jeep. The three were immediately taken into custody. It should be noted that the hole has since been fixed.
An IDF official acknowledged that the incident had indeed taken place, and that the incident was being treated “very seriously.”
This is not the first time in recent years that soldiers have been found sleeping at the border while on patrol; three months ago, a top ranking officer who was leading a patrol on the northern border was found sleeping in a jeep along with his soldiers. All members of the patrol were thrown in the brig for at least three weeks.
The incidents were considered very serious by top IDF officials, especially in light of the kidnappings of IDF soldiers in recent years. Two soldiers who were kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists on the northern border -- Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev -- died either during the attack or shortly thereafter in captivity. Their bodies were returned to Israel in 2008 after months of arduous, delicate talks that included the services of a top German negotiator, in exchange for several top Hizbullah terrorists and the bodies of more than a hundred dead terrorists from various other groups as well.
The kidnappings sparked the 2006 Second Lebanon War, in which 165 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed, with Israel sustaining billions of dollars in damage due to the tens of thousands of missiles fired by Hizbullah on northern Israel.
The soldiers who fell asleep could easily have been kidnap victims themselves, had they not been found by fellow IDF officers themselves first, top IDF officials said.