00:24 GMT01 April 2020
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    An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military court has indicted three officers for negligence in the drowning of Sergeant Evyatar Yosefi during a navigation exercise in January 2019 in the Hilazon Stream near the northern Israeli city of Karmiel.

    According to the Jerusalem Post, Yosefi, who was part of the Gadsar Nahal special forces unit, slipped on the riverbank and fell into the stream during the exercise. His partner, who was completing the drill with him, tried to throw him a rope, but Yosefi couldn’t hold onto it.  He was found dead by rescue personnel around two hours later, about 100 meters from where he fell into the stream. According to the Times of Israel, the Hilazon was “swollen from the previous night’s rainfall.”

    An investigation into Yosefi’s death revealed that multiple officers had violated orders and not performed their duties, the Times reported. According to Military Advocate-General Sharon Afek, the officers did not prepare for inclement weather and did not follow safety instructions.

    Five army officers were summoned in July 2019 for a hearing to determine if charges would be filed against them. Following the hearing’s conclusion on Wednesday, Afek filed charges against three of the five officials - the battalion commander, the deputy company commander and the team leader - for noncompliance with military instructions and negligence. All three officers agreed to plead guilty to their crimes to receive lighter sentences.

    According to the Times of Israel, the battalion commander will be allowed to continue his military career, even though he was found to not have adequately prepared his troops for the navigation exercise. The deputy company commander will be demoted by one rank and will have to perform 100 days of community service within the military. Similarly, the team commander will also be demoted by one rank and be required to complete 45 days of community service in the military.

    In a March 2019 statement, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi called the incident tragic.

    “This is an event of the utmost gravity, which led to a tragic result whose roots are in a series of errors and mistakes in preparing for the exercise and the way in which it was carried out, under unprofessional leadership by the entire chain of command and unethical leadership by part of the command. This led to recklessness in the exercise under the gaze of the commanders and without them doing anything to prevent it,” Kochavi said.

    “In the incident in question the commanders throughout the chain of command did not act in accordance with the extreme vigilance expected of them in planning the exercise and in directing it,” he added.

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