Disaster in Duvdevan:
Soldier who shot friend accused of manslaughter

Investigation committee determines soldier killed playing with gun, Duvdevan CO will not be promoted in next two years.

Mordechai Sones ,


The investigation committee set up by the IDF following the Duvdevan Unit disaster determined that the late Sergeant Shachar Strug was killed as a result of playing with a weapon with his colleague First Sgt. N.

The Judge Advocate General's Office filed an indictment against N. for manslaughter. The prosecution sought to extend N.'s remand until the end of proceedings and a Jaffa military court judge ruled his detention would be extended by a week.

Inquiry commission members determined the direct cause of Sgt. Strug's death was the shooting by Sergeant N. with a pistol without a safety plug during training preparations while they were waiting in the unit's billet.

The team also determined there to be a lackadaisical attitude toward illegal weapon use among the fighting unit to which the two belonged, and apparently this was not a unique incident.

The committee team determined there was insufficient command control to prevent use of weapons in contravention of orders and procedures. This despite the awareness of such a possibility after three previous stray bullet-firing incidents occurred in the unit.

Sergeant Shachar Strug
צילום: דובר צה"ל

Committee members submitted a number of recommendations defining safety procedures for carrying pistols in various IDF units, along with more effective inter-unit lesson-learning after safety incidents. The Chief of Staff accepted the Commission's conclusions and recommendations.

In light of the incident's severity and the inquiry commission's findings, the Chief of Staff decided on a number of command steps including cancelling the unit commander's assignment to brigade commander (an officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel) and delaying his promotion to the rank of full colonel for two years, and meting a severe reprimand to the platoon commander (an officer with the rank of major) and delaying his promotion for two years. Likewise the team commander, a lieutenant, was relieved of duty.

In addition, the commando unit's CO decided to dismiss the team sergeant (a first sergeant). An indictment against Sergeant N. was filed with the military court today for manslaughter.

IDF Spokesman Ronen Manlis said "the Duvdevan Unit is an elite, professional, and leading unit that takes a central and significant part in the IDF's various security challenges day and night. The death of Sgt. Shachar Strug of blessed memory is a difficult incident that will be thoroughly investigated so that it won't repeat itself. The IDF participates in the sorrow of the family and continues to accompany them."

Maj. Merav Hershkowitz Yitzhaki, Captain (res.) Avi Chaimi, and Captain Eliasaf Melamed, who represent the accused soldier on behalf of the Military Advocate General, said, "We received with great disappointment the decision of the Military Advocate General's Office to choose the manslaughter charge. The defense team believes the investigation material, as well as the consistent words of the soldier, clearly indicate the appropriate charge in the circumstances of this tragic case is death by negligence.

"In these circumstances, there will be no choice but to bring the case to the Military Court for decision and to lay out the full picture and all the defense arguments before the judges. We're convinced after the court examines the evidence and hears the soldier's testimony, it will find that it adopts the defense's position," the attorneys added.

The serious incident took place on Tuesday, March 20, at the IDF base in the center of the country, when Strug was seriously injured and evacuated to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus where doctors struggled for his life but were ultimately forced to declare his death.

About 1,000 people took part in Strug's funeral in the military section of Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul cemetery. He left behind parents, Kobi and Michal, and a 15-year-old sister.

Michal, Shachar's mother, eulogized him, "He was his mother's entire life; my greatest pride in the world - how rare you are. You were so happy, so I wasn't worried. Everyone who knows you knows that when you call, the phone's screen says 'Shachar the King'. King Shachar won't be phoning me any more," she said.

"I'm in shock from these words I'm writing," referring to her eulogy. "How can I survive? Remember I told you to take care of yourself, because without you we have no life? Our lives are ruined," the mother added in tears. "You were a perfect prince, it's what you were made of, what you did when times got tough. I don't know what I'm supposed to say; you're my crowning achievement. We'll never part."