Israeli agent killed by friendly fire after being mistaken for Palestinian assailant

© Mussa Qawasma
An operative of the Israeli Shin Bet security service was killed by friendly fire during an operation on the border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after being mistaken for a Palestinian attacker.

The shooting death of the agent identified as Amir Maimoni, 29, was first attributed to the activities of Palestinian militants, but Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen confirmed in a statement that he was killed by mistake, AFP reports.

"Regrettably a tragic operational development took place in the field during the mission," Cohen said at Maimoni's funeral on Wednesday.

The Shin Bet chief said that another agent “misidentified and shot at Amir, hitting him” and “all efforts to revive him failed.” At the same time, the circumstances of Maimoni's death are still being investigated, with Shin Bet providing no further details of the incident or the operation.

Meanwhile, former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter has claimed that such incidents are very rare. "I remember such a mishap 20-something years ago," he told Israeli public radio Thursday.

Shin Bet Special Forces conduct operations near the border with the Gaza Strip in response to complaints from local residents, who reportedly hear digging noises in the area that could be a sign of activity by Hamas forces digging attack tunnels, Israeli Ynet News reports. The agents are involved in locating and destroying such tunnels.