An IDF (Zahal) soldier was killed earlier this evening in a shooting incident near the Central Gaza Strip.

The soldier was apparently killed as a result of friendly fire, during an incident that was perceived by the soldiers as that of a terrorist nature.

A tank team that was on an operational activity identified three suspects crossing the security fence from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli side. An additional IDF (Zahal) patrol called to the scene following the infiltration was not updated that the tank team began a pursuit on foot. The force mistakenly identified the tank team as the Palestinian suspects, and began firing at the team.

One of the soldiers was killed during the fire exchange. The rest of the team was not harmed. The three infiltrators were arrested and taken for a security questioning. The infiltrators were not armed. OC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, has appointed a Colonel to investigate the circumstances of the event.

The family of the soldier was notified of the event.

IDF (Zahal) Soldier Killed Near Gaza Strip, 22 Mar 2010

Staff Sergeant Gavriel Chepitch, 21

IDF (Zahal) Soldier Killed Near Gaza Strip, 22 Mar 2010

Staff Sergeant Gavriel Chepitch, 21

IDF (Zahal) Soldier Killed Near Gaza Strip, 22 Mar 2010

Staff Sergeant Gavriel Chepitch, 21