Merkava tank (archive)
Merkava tank (archive) Ofer Tzidon/Flash90

A runaway tank nearly caused disaster in southern Israel recently, after the tank’s crew fell asleep.

The incident occurred at an IDF training area in southern Israel during an officer’s training course, according to a report by Channel 2, after the tank unit commander had left the vehicle, which has been identified as a Merkava MK IV tank.

The commander had instructed the crew to remain inside the tank, with the vehicle’s special brake system activated, which should have prevented any movement. In addition, the tank’s turret was locked into position, to prevent any accidental rotation.

Despite these precautions, when the commander returned to the vehicle, he found that the tank had disappeared.

The 70-ton tank was later found nearly 2,000 feet away, after having crossed Highway 40.

It was later discovered that no one was in control of the tank at the time, as the crew were asleep as the Merkava cut across the highway in what could have been a traffic disaster.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that the mishap took place, and said army investigators were probing the incident.

“During training which took place as part of a tank officers’ training course in southern Israel, a tank slid down several hundred meters and cross a road. There were no injuries or damage caused by the incident. This is an unusual security incident, which will be investigated with the goal of preventing similar accidents from occurring the future.”