Tuesday, January 31st | 9 Shevat 5783

January 13, 2022 3:23 pm

‘I Thought I Was in a Bad Dream’: Two IDF Officers Killed by Friendly Fire Laid to Rest

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Separate photographs of Maj. Itamar Elharar, 26, and Maj. Ofek Aharon, 28, IDF officers killed by friendly fire on Jan. 12, 2022, in the West Bank. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

The two Israeli officers killed on Wednesday night in a tragic friendly fire accident at a base in the Jordan Valley were laid to rest on Thursday.

Maj. Itamar Elharar, 26, and Maj. Ofek Aharon, 28, both commanders in the IDF’s special forces Egoz unit, were killed by IDF fire due to a “mistaken identification,” the army said.

Aharon’s father, Eli, wept at the side of his son’s grave and cried out: “You got Ofek healthy and sound and I got him in a coffin.”

“You were humble, brave, and competitive — you were a warrior,” Eli Aharon was quoted  as saying by Israeli news outlet Walla, wearing his son’s military coat and towel wrapped around his neck. “I said goodbye to you on Sunday on the train. When they came knocking on our door at 2:30 at night, I thought I was in a bad dream.”

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“Your modesty is what led you to the top. You left me, your mother, and your sisters in an empty space. Ofek, you will stay with me forever, you were a father’s child,” he added.

Addressing the IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Eli said: “There was negligence here. I want explanations from the chief of staff Kochavi. This is not going to pass.”

According to an initial investigation, the incident occurred as the two platoon commanders on Wednesday night went on patrol to search for night vision devices which had been stolen from their tents in the Nabi Musa base a night earlier. Separately, another team commander also went on patrol for the same reason. The two teams did not know of each other’s actions.

When the group patrol with Aharon and Elharar identified a suspicious person, they flanked him. The officer acting alone heard noises, and when he turned around and saw the second team, suspecting them to be terrorists, he felt threatened — opening fire and killing them both.

Earlier in the day, Elharar was buried in the military cemetery in Kiryat Malachi accompanied by hundreds of soldiers, friends and family.

“I did not believe that this would happen, that you would leave the house on your last journey,” Elharar’s mother was quoted as saying, according to Israel’s Channel 12. “I always warned you, ‘Itamar, take care of your soldiers, be careful.”

“Everywhere you went you left such a big mark, a legacy: at high school, in the moshav and in the army. You had a modest wedding during corona and now a funeral of this magnitude. You see how many people love and cherish you,” she said.

“The last three years with you have been the happiest of my life,” said Elharar’s wife Orr. “My Itamar, you are the best at everything — the best grandson, the best son, the best uncle and the best for me. We chose military life together. For me it wasn’t a difficult decision to accept because I saw every day how happy you are and how much you love your mission, and your soldiers. It made me happy for you.”

“I am sorry we didn’t get a chance to make our dreams come true. I am not sorry for the life we shared together. I’d repeat it all with you. Thank you for being my husband,” Orr said.

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