GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel - An IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldier was killed on Wednesday when the tank he was in flipped over during a training exercise. Three other soldiers were lightly injured in the incident.
Staff Sergeant Uriel Peretz Librant, 21, died when the Merkava 3 tank veered off course and fell off a mobile bridge set up for the exercise. The tank fell several meters (yards) and flipped over in the culvert below.
Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, chief of Ground Forces Command, issued a temporary halt on all training until a team of investigators finish evaluating the incident.
The exercise involved crossing a bridge over an anti-tank ridge such as would be found in a combat zone. Several other tanks had navigated the bridge successfully before the accident, a statement by the IDF spokesperson read.
Commanders of ground forces have been instructed to re-emphasize safety measures, the press release stated.
The 21-year-old commander, who is survived by his parents and three sisters, lived in Efrat and was a student at the Har Etzion Yeshiva (Torah seminary) in Alon Shvut. His family had immigrated from the U.S.
"Uriel personified gentleness and at the same time readiness to lead, as he showed the commander of his tank," Rabbi Yaakov Fischer, who heads the Neveh Shmuel Yeshiva High School in Efrat, where Lebrant had also studied.
The IDF Armored Corp began using the 65-ton Merkava 3 in 1990. The tank holds four soldiers - the commander, an artilleryman, a signal operator and a driver.
Wednesday's accident was the second this week. On Sunday, nine soldiers were injured during an exercise when a tank fell into a ditch in Nabi Musa training area in the Judean desert.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news