IDF soldier who died during training near Elad is named as Hillel Nehemiah Ofan, 20


A tragic incident occurred on Monday morning (August 14, 2023), when a soldier collapsed and subsequently died during a training exercise in a forest near the central city of Elad in Israel. The soldier, who was identified as Hillel Nehemiah Ofan, 20, was a member of the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit. He had recently completed his basic training and was undergoing advanced training.

The incident happened during a crawling exercise, which was part of the unit’s curriculum. The exercise was conducted between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., amid an intense heatwave that has been affecting Israel. One of Ofan’s commanders noticed his plight and immediately initiated preliminary medical assistance while simultaneously alerting paramedics. Additional support was summoned as medical personnel from the Air Force’s search-and-rescue Unit 669 were dispatched to the location. Despite these efforts, Ofan’s life could not be saved. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

IDF soldier who died during training near Elad is named as Hillel Nehemiah Ofan, 20
IDF soldier who died during training near Elad is named as Hillel Nehemiah Ofan, 20

Military Police launch investigation into the cause of death

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) swiftly responded to the situation and are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding Ofan’s untimely demise. Preliminary reports from first responders suggest that Ofan may have succumbed to heatstroke or dehydration, highlighting the potential risks associated with intense training activities in hot weather conditions.

At this point, the military is unaware of any preexisting health conditions that may have contributed to Ofan’s death. The Military Police have initiated an investigation to ascertain the events leading up to Ofan’s collapse and death. The findings from this inquiry will subsequently be presented to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for evaluation.

Head of Ground Forces halts all training exercises until Wednesday

Following the tragic incident, Major General Tamir Yadai, the commander of the IDF’s Ground Forces, promptly issued a directive halting all training exercises until Wednesday at 5 a.m. This suspension provides an opportunity for a comprehensive assessment of training protocols, safety measures, and the impact of weather conditions on soldiers’ health and performance.

The IDF has historically refrained from conducting outdoor training sessions during periods of extreme heat, prioritizing the well-being of its soldiers. The importance of public health and safety during extreme heat conditions has been underscored by medical officials who have advised people to avoid direct sunlight during peak hours, remain well-hydrated, and exercise particular caution with vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.

Family and friends mourn Ofan’s death

Ofan’s family and friends have expressed their shock and grief over his death. Ofan was described as a loving son, brother, and friend who had a passion for music and sports. He was also praised for his dedication and professionalism as a soldier.

Ofan’s funeral was held on Monday afternoon at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul. Hundreds of people attended the ceremony, including his relatives, friends, fellow soldiers, and senior IDF officers. Ofan is survived by his parents and three siblings.


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