Navy candidate buried in Ra'anana

Aharon Zarfati, 17, died Monday in an endurance exercise off the coast of Atlit.

By JOSH BRANNON, JPOST STAFF
September 18, 2006 18:16
1 minute read.
Navy candidate buried in Ra'anana

aharon zarfati 298.88. (photo credit: IDF)

 
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Aharon Zarfati, who died Monday while trying out for the navy's elite Shayetet 13 commando unit, was laid to rest late Monday evening in the military cemetery in Ra'anana. Zarfati, 17, drowned Monday morning during tryouts for the naval commando unit, becoming the second candidate to die during a pre-army entrance exam in less than a month. The cadet, from Ra'anana, drowned in shallow water on the second day of the physically and psychologically intensive entrance exam for Shayetet 13. The accident occurred at the Atlit naval base south of Haifa. The potential candidates were performing a task that required prolonged periods of being underwater when instructors discovered Zarfati in an unresponsive state. He was pulled from the water unconscious and attended to by medics on the scene, but attempts to resuscitate failed. A physician arrived and pronounced Zarfati dead. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz called for a halt to all military tryouts until further notice, and Naval Commander Admiral David Ben-Bashat has ordered an investigation into the events leading up to the tragedy. The investigatory committee will examine whether commanders and medical staff took appropriate precautions for the tryouts and whether a previous medical condition had played a role. The Military Police is conducting a separate investigation. The notoriously grueling entrance exams, or gibushim, are used by special units, in varying forms and levels of difficulty, in every branch of the IDF. The gibush for Shayetet 13, or "Flotilla 17," remains one of the hardest to pass; it is a grueling four-day trial in which candidates endure lengthy rough water swims and run for hours in the sand with rubber boats raised over their heads. The exercises are designed to gauge a candidate's suitability to the marine environment, and to assess his capability of performing physically and mentally challenging tasks under duress. Oz, one former Shayetet commando, told The Jerusalem Post that candidates in his induction class were blindfolded and instructed to tread frigid waters for unspecified periods of time. On August 23, Itai Sharon, 17, of Zichron Ya'acov, died during qualification tests for the IAF pilots' course at a base in the Negev. Sharon apparently died of heatstroke. The preliminary findings of an investigative committee said there were no violations of army regulations in that tragedy. Sharon collapsed during trials carried out despite the extreme heat in the area.

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