INTRODUCTION: A committee of inquiry into the crash of an army helicopter in Israel, killing all 54 soldiers and crew, continued its investigations as funerals for the dead were held throughout Israel on Thursday (May 12).
INTRODUCTION: A committee of inquiry into the crash of an army helicopter in Israel, killing all 54 soldiers and crew, continued its investigations as funerals for the dead were held throughout Israel on Thursday (May 12). The disaster, one of the worst air crashes in Israel, marred celebrations in Jerusalem marking the 10th anniversary of the city's 'reunifications' after the capture of its eastern sector by the Israeli army int he 1967 war.
SYNOPSIS: The Lions Gate, where Israeli forces penetrated the old city of Jerusalem during the war. Thursday's anniversary ceremony was led by Israeli Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur, who placed a wreath at the memorial to the Israelis who died in the assault. It was the only main official public ceremony marking the anniversary -- all the festive celebrations of joy were cancelled as the country plunged into mourning.
Meanwhile, Israel buried its dead from the helicopter crash in funerals throughout the nation. The crash was the worst air disaster in Israel's military peacetime history. Eye-witnesses said the United States-built Sea Stallion heavy transport helicopter took off normally, flew about a mile (1.6 kilometres) a low altitude, then hit the top of a low hill in the Israeli-occupied Jordan River Valley north of Jericho. It ploughed through sand and rocks for about 20 yards (metres) and exploded.
Mourning for the dead also interrupted the campaign for Israel's general elections, and with voters going to the polls on Tuesday (17 May) the political parties were compressing their rallies and broadcasts into four days. Israeli radio programmes switched to solemn music after the announcement of the crash. The impact of the disaster was such that it prompted one military expert to say that if compared to a country the size of the United States, the deaths of the 54 men would be equivalent to 3,500 killed.