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IDF soldier dies during training exercise

Initial reports point to dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Israel Defense Forces soldier Pvt. Hillel Nehemiah Ofen died during training near the central city of Elad, Aug. 14, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israel Defense Forces soldier Pvt. Hillel Nehemiah Ofen died during training near the central city of Elad, Aug. 14, 2023. Credit: IDF.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier died Monday morning during a training exercise in a forest near the central city of Elad.

The soldier, identified as Pvt. Hillel Nehamiah Ofen, 20, from Karmei Tzur in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, served in the Combat Engineering Corps’s Yahalom special operations unit.

He was posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal.

At around 4 a.m., a commander spotted Ofen lying motionless during a crawling exercise and began administering treatment. Emergency medical personnel from the air force’s elite Unit 669 Combat Search and Rescue extraction unit were called in but could not resuscitate the soldier.

The IDF was probing the cause of death, with initial reports pointing to dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Israeli is experiencing a heat wave, with extreme temperatures seen on Saturday and Sunday.

The daily highs are now expected to decline to 33°C (91°F) in the Center and more than 41°C (105°F) in Eilat and other parts of the country.

The IDF said that all exercises had been stopped due to the heat until 10 p.m. on Sunday. When temperatures fell overnight, some outdoor training resumed.

Following the soldier’s death, the commander of the IDF Ground Forces ordered a halt to all exercises until Wednesday at 5 a.m.

The Military Police opened an investigation into the soldier’s death.

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