IDF: Botched rescue caused by human error

Army releases results of probe into March accident that led to death of man who fell during evacuation.

helicopter (photo credit: IDF)
(photo credit: IDF)
The results of an IDF inquiry released Friday found that an airborne accident that led to the death of a man who fell as he was being evacuated by helicopter in March was the result of human error. The incident occurred on March 11, when Ala Muhammad, 24, from Wadi Ara, went on a hike with several friends near Beit She'an. Muhammad mistakenly entered a minefield and was seriously injured in the legs after he set off one of the mines. A team from the IAF's elite Unit 669 Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit arrived at the scene to evacuate him. The army probe found that equipment malfunction did not contribute to the botched rescue, but stated that no one would be prosecuted regarding the incident. At the time of the accident, military sources said Unit 669 was deeply shocked by the incident and pointed to the fact that the unit carried out dozens of rescue operations a year across the country and under similar circumstances. Unit 669 is one of the IDF's most respected special forces units and has a grueling 18-month training regime. In peacetime, Unit 669 serves as civilian medevac for hikers who have gotten lost or stuck. These civilian operations help train the unit fighters for their battle-time roles. Its teams participated in the Second Lebanon War and the recent Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, and in some cases evacuated wounded soldiers while coming under enemy fire. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report