Majdal Shams (TPS) – Two IDF soldiers were killed on the Syrian border on Sunday morning, one of them a lone soldier from the United States when a hand grenade exploded by mistake during a routine patrol for reasons that are still unclear. The Army is currently investigating whether the grenade was detonated on purpose. Three more soldiers were wounded in the tragic incident, one of them suffering severe injuries.
The soldiers, who serve in the IDF Combat Engineering Corps, arrived at a military post near the town of Majdal Shams on Mount Hermon at around 7 a.m., after returning from a patrol in a military jeep. The jeep driver approached the soldier guarding the post when a hand grenade suddenly exploded in his hand, killing them both instantly.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit identified one of the victims as Sergeant Shlomo Rindenow, a 20-year-old soldier originally from New Jersey in the United States. Rindenow came to Israel without any family members and enlisted in the army. He was living in the Kibbutz of Sde Yoav.
The jeep driver who also died in the tragic accident was identified as First-Sergeant Hussam Tafesh, 24, a Druze reserve soldier from the village of Beit Jann. Tafesh’s family is widely known and popular in Beit Jann, and the whole village mourned him on Sunday. He is survived by his parents, four sisters and a brother.
Three more soldiers were wounded in the incident. The patrol commander was evacuated by helicopter in critical condition to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Two other soldiers were lightly wounded from the shockwave and transported to the hospital as well.
A statement by the army said that it had informed the families of those killed and injured of the terrible news. “The IDF offers condolences to the bereaved families and will continue supporting them,” the statement said.
The reason for the explosion is still unknown. At first, it appeared to be an accident, but it is also possible that the background was criminal. The Commander of the Northern Command, General Aviv Kochavi, has appointed a team of experts to investigate the incident.
Kochavi also ordered that all the Northern Command soldiers immediately undergo a refresher course in grenade handling protocol.
Tzvi Lev contributed to this article.
Photos by [c] TPS