In what the Israel Defense Force is calling a “severe safety violation,” a 65-ton Merkava battle tank rolled across a major Israeli highway Sunday. Where was its crew? Fast asleep inside the armored vehicle.
The IDF has launched an investigation into how a tank crew from Shizafon base fell asleep inside their Merkava-4 tank and put it into reverse, winding up 600 meters from where they should have been, on the other side of the busy Route 40 highway.
The incident happened Sunday during a tank commander’s course in the Negev Desert, about 46 miles north of the resort city of Eilat. The bizarre episode rounded off a week of field exercises. Apparently the tank crew’s commander had gotten out of the tank to go to the bathroom and when he came back 20 minutes later, he found the tank was missing.
It appeared all other precautions had been taken, including locking the tank’s turret into position.
The Merkava Mark IV is the newest generation of the Israeli line of main battle tanks, with 360 produced for the Israeli army since 2003.
An IDF spokesperson said nobody had been hurt, but that the tank had narrowly missed a group of soldiers. However, they’re now investigating the “unusual security incident… to learn the lessons in order to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents in the future.”