Israeli soldiers keen to return from a Gaza attack left behind a comrade who had fallen asleep, and then took more than an hour to realize he was missing, officials and media said Sunday.
The soldier was in an elite infantry regiment that overnight Thursday and Friday launched an attack into the Gaza Strip, which has been under control of Hamas movement since June 15, the Ynet news Web site reported.
The exhausted soldier was at the rear of his unit, and fell asleep during a pause in the march out of the territory, it said.
When a commander conducted a head count, other soldiers, keen to get back into Israel after the attack, answered in his place, the Ha'aretz daily said. The unit then marched out of Gaza, leaving him behind.
The mishap was discovered more than an hour later, back at base in Israel.
By then, the missing man had woken up to find himself abandoned, so he started firing tracer bullets into the air to signal his position. He was later retrieved, and returned to base unharmed.
The army has begun an investigation into the incident, which it views with the "utmost gravity," a military source said.
"The incident could have ended in a kidnapping. There is a chain of intolerable mistakes here," another military source told Ynet.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Temmuz 2007, 01:10