Flyin’ into Zion: Parachutists to jump into Jerusalem park

This Thursday there will be an organized jump of ten parachutists in the holy city into the annual Jerusalem March at the capital’s Sacher Park.

parachutes idf 311 (photo credit: AP)
parachutes idf 311
(photo credit: AP)

In 5000 years of history, Jerusalem has been entered by foot, horse, camel and on tanks, planes, helicopters and land vehicles.

But never before has there been a jump of ten parachutists into the holy city.
That will change this Thursday, when there will be an organized jump into the annual Jerusalem March at the capital’s Sacher Park in honor of Israel’s seventieth birthday and the 51st anniversary of the reunification of the city.
The event is the dreamchild of former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s foreign press adviser, Ra’anan Gissin, who himself has been jumping out of planes for decades. Gissin will not be jumping himself this time, because such a challenging jump into an urban park requires specialized jumpers with skydiving experience of over 1500 jumps.
“It’s an unprecedented, once in a lifetime event that we are doing it for the sake of Israel and Jerusalem,” Gissin said. “We hope people will see this all over the world.”
Gissin did add a caveat that there were a couple IDF jumpers who parachuted into Israel’s fiftieth birthday celebration at Jerusalem’s Givat Ram Stadium, which was attended by then-US Vice President Al Gore. But he said a jump of this magnitude has never been attempted before.
The jumpers, who are members of the Israel Skydivers Union, will be taking off from Herzliya and will fly over Jerusalem’s Old City. They will fall some 11,000 feet for 50 seconds before they take out their parachutes and then fall gradually for another five minutes to a 50-by-70 meter area of the park.
Israel Skydivers Union president Dar Nahum said the jump into Jerusalem was special, because paratroopers who are known for their ability to jump from planes captured the Old City on foot in 1967.
“It’s the dream of every paratrooper or skydiver to jump into Jerusalem,” Nahum said. “It’s very complicated to jump there, to deal with the winds and get to such a specific place, so the jumpers must be very professional. But we are happy to do it in honor of the reunification of the city and fulfill a dream. I’m jealous of the jumpers.”
The jumpers are part of the Tzanchania Club of Shomrat, which is donating the plane, the pilot and other costs of the event. All of the jumpers will be taking off from work and doing it for free.
Yogev Pinhas, 35, who will be one of the jumpers, said he teaches jumping from planes in the IDF, and he has jumped before into the Ofakim development town in the Negev and into the Gaza periphery. His friends will be coming to watch him, as will a girlfriend he hopes to impress.
“It will be a challenge because it’s urban, and the landing area is small, but I am practicing, and the weather is looking good,” he said. “It will be a very special event. I expect it to be magical.”