Israel remembers 73 soldiers killed in helicopter disaster 19 years ago

The tragedy has become known in Israeli parlance as 'ason ha'msokim' ('the helicopters disaster').

February 5, 2016 17:08
1 minute read.
The memorial for 73 soldiers killed in the 1997 helicopter disaster

The memorial for 73 soldiers killed in the 1997 helicopter disaster. (photo credit: ELAD WEINSTEIN /CC-BY-SA-3.0)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


On the night of February 4, 1997, two CH-53 (“Yasur”) transport helicopters carrying soldiers who were being airlifted to positions in the Israeli-controlled security zone in south Lebanon collided in midair.

All 73 soldiers, among them eight who comprised the flight crews, aboard the helicopters died in the tragedy, which in Israeli parlance has become known as ason ha'msokim (“the helicopters disaster”).

The troops included those who served in the Nahal and Golani infantry brigades as well as Armored Corps and other units active in south Lebanon.

One of the helicopters crashed landed in Sha’ar Yashuv, a moshav used as a Galilee vacation resort. The other chopper fell in an open field near Kibbutz Dafna.

To this day, the cause of the crash has yet to be definitively ascertained. A government commission of inquiry failed to come to a conclusion, although it did rule out any mechanical or technical malfunction in the helicopters.

The flight crews were also deemed to be competent and sufficiently trained. No evidence was found to indicate that the pilots were under the influence of any chemical substances that might have impaired their judgement.

The commission also failed to find evidence of health-related ailments or psychological distress that could have played a role.

Investigators ruled out other possible factors, including the use of mobile devices, weather conditions, or enemy fire.

“The events in the final few seconds will remain a mystery,” the panel’s report said.

A memorial tribute to the fallen soldiers was inaugurated in 2008 near the cemetery in Kibbutz Dafna.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

An Israeli air force F-15 fighter jet flies during an exhibition as part of a graduation ceremony
March 26, 2019
Air Force hits targets in Gaza after 30 rockets pound Israel