Jerusalem, 5 February 1997


(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)

In wake of the helicopter crash last night (4.2.97) in which 73 soldiers were killed in the Sha’ar-Yishuv area, the Cabinet today (Wednesday), 5.2.97, held a memorial meeting at which the following was decided:

1. A national day of mourning has been proclaimed, commencing today 5.2.97, at the start of the first funeral, through tomorrow, Thursday, 6.2.97, at 19:00 hours. During the day, flags will be lowered to half-mast on all public buildings, IDF bases, and Israeli missions abroad. All places of public entertainment, including theaters, will be closed. The electronic media will moderate their broadcasts as well.

2. The following announcement has been issued by the Cabinet:

The Government of Israel mourns the deaths of 73 IDF soldiers who fell in the helicopter crash disaster near Sha’ar Yishuv, on their way to active operations in South Lebanon.

The Cabinet shares in the mourning and unbearable grief of the families of the fallen, and in the grief of their officers and friends, and of the entire IDF, and sends condolences to the families of the fallen.

3. The Cabinet notes the announcement by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sport regarding special activities in education institutions throughout the country, and the holding of memorial assemblies in schools throughout Israel.

4. Wreaths will be laid on the grave sites of those who have fallen, in accordance with existing IDF procedures.

5. The Prime Minister stated in the meeting that this is one of the worst accidents in the history of the IDF. This is a national tragedy that has encompassed not only the families, but each and every community throughout the country. Today, every citizen in Israel feels the heartbreaking pain.

The Defense Minister stated that this was the worst accident ever experienced by the IDF. Those who died came from all religions and creeds. The Defense Minister reported that he has set up a Commission of Inquiry, headed by Maj.-Gen. (Res.) David Ivry. The commission will examine the reasons for the disaster and make recommendations for the future.