Memorial to Israel’s deadliest air disaster opens in Tel Aviv
Families organize memorial to mark 20th anniversary of mid-air collision between two transport helicopters that killed 73 soldiers • “Our country and the soldiers who were killed for it are above all political disagreements,” victim’s sister says.
A memorial project commemorating the 20th anniversary of the worst accident in the history of the Israel Defense Forces — the mid-air collision between two transport helicopters over the northern Galilee on Feb. 4, 1997, which killed all 73 military personnel on board — opened in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Sunday. The project, built as a museum inside a giant tent in the square, was planned and organized by the siblings and children of the victims.
The organizers, many of whom had not met or seen each other in the 20 years since the tragedy, met in recent months for the purpose of creating the memorial. The bereaved families attended the memorial’s opening, along with other relatives, friends, team members and passers-by.
Groups from various military units and schools arrived at Rabin Square Sunday morning and were given a tour by the siblings. The memorial features a variety of newspaper and television excerpts from the days following the disaster, historical tidbits on the IDF’s deployment in southern Lebanon, information about the victims, and a room with life-sized pictures of the victims.
“The project’s great strength lies with its organizers, the brothers and sisters and children of the victims, who met each other for the first time after 20 years,” said Ayala Minker, who lost her brother Idan in the crash and helped create the memorial.
“For many of us, this is the first time we decided to look at the grief and say, mostly to ourselves, that we are bereaved, and that this has significance.
“We invite the public to visit the exhibit, to learn, to connect and to remember. This tragedy killed 73 soldiers from the Right and the Left, religious and secular, from all walks of life. It is important for us that the public remembers that our unity is our strength, and despite the differences in Israeli society we all love our country. Our country and the soldiers who were killed for it are above all political disagreements,” she said