20 Israeli Soldiers, Air Crew Members Killed in Sinai Air Crash; Members Killed in Sinai Air Crash;
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20 Israeli Soldiers, Air Crew Members Killed in Sinai Air Crash; Members Killed in Sinai Air Crash;

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Air Force Commander Gen. Benyamin Peled has appointed a committee to investigate Tuesday’s crash of an Israel Air Force Hercules transport in Sinai which killed 20 Israeli soldiers and air crew members. The giant aircraft, on a routine training flight, plunged into the fog-shrouded 2700 foot peak of Djebel Hilal south of El Arish at about 7 p.m. local time. There were no survivors.

Rescue teams, aided by helicopters, were unable to reach the crash site until late yesterday because of the foul weather. One member of the rescue party, army chief pathologist Lt. Col. Yehonathan Meir, was seriously injured in a fall while climbing the mountain.

The names of the 20 victims were published today following notification of next of kin. But there were indications that the military chaplaincy corps has not made positive identification in all cases since funeral services have been delayed pending final identification. The names may have been taken from the list of personnel–nine to have been aboard the aircraft. All were reservists.


The “black box,” the automatic flight recording device that all aircraft carry, had not been found as of noon today. The tapes in the box would give the investigators a detailed picture of how the plane was functioning up until the moment of the crash. Flight control officials believe the pilot made a navigational error that took him some 15 kilometers off course, Low-lying clouds and fog obscured the peak until the last minute when the pilot tried to gain altitude but was too late, the officials believe.

Two oil prospectors who were eye-witnesses to the crash said they saw the plane heading toward the mountain and then heard two explosions accompanied by fire balls. Their description indicated that the transport’s wing may have struck the slopes setting the plane on fire after which it crashed into the rocky peak. Rescuers found debris and bodies scattered over a radius of 700 yards. The wreckage burned for six hours and the terrain around it was blackened by the fire.


The following list of dead was published; Sgt. Shlomo Arad, 29, infantry, of Beth Zera Kibbutz; Cpl. Itzhak Aharon, 25, Rishon Lezion, infantry; Cpl. Eliyahu Bahir, 30, Givat Brenner, infantry; Capt. Shaul Bustan, 27, Ramat Gan, pilot of the Hercules; Cpl. Itzhak Biederman, 31, Zikim, infantry; Lt. Moshe Baram 29, Holon, flight engineer Sgt. Gad Gilboa, 31, Ramat Hagolan, infantry.

Cpl, Joseph Dagan, 28, Kiryat Tivon; Sgt. Doron Hauser, 19, Tel Aviv, loading control; Sgt. Avraham Vaga, 20, Ben Shemen, loading control; Pvt. Alon Tamim, 27, Shomerat, infantry; Capt. Moshe Yagur; 29, Haifa, navigator.

Capt. Moshe Lavie, 34, Petach Tikva, infantry; Sgt. Doron Maro, 25, Rehovot, infantry; Capt Uri Manor, 28, Lod, co-pilot; Lt. Amir Klein; 22, Haifa, navigator; 1st Sgt. Arnon Reiss, 34, Hagoshrim; Sgt. Dan Schitzer, 32, Almagor, infantry; Pvt. Avraham Shapira, 25, Massada; and Sgt. Nimrod Zaletkis, 29, Rehovot, loading control.

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