TEL AVIV (Jul. 2)
An Israel Defense Force reservist was killed and five others lightly injured when their Bell-212 helicopter crashed into the sea less than a mile southwest of the Israel-Lebanon border post at Rosh Hanikra on Wednesday evening.
The helicopter was returning from an operational flight over Lebanon when it plunged into the sea on its way home.
The two air force pilots and three of the four soldiers aboard were thrown into the water and rescued by navy Dabour-class boats.
But Sgt. Gil Rosenthal, 27, of Kibbutz Nitzanim, was trapped inside the sinking craft. His body was recovered two hours later by a navy underwater squad.
The air force commander, Maj. Gen. Herzl Bodinger, established a commission of investigation to determine the cause of the crash.
Soldiers aboard the craft said the “stick,” or guidance column, appeared to have become stuck, making the helicopter unnavigable and causing it to spin and drop downward.
Rosenthal was laid to rest in the Nitzanim cemetery at noon Thursday.
Wednesday’s downed helicopter apparently was returning from an operational flight linked to a helicopter raid by IDF aircraft on a command post of George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The target was in the Rashidiya refugee camp, near the port city of Tyre in southern Lebanon.
It was the 15th air raid against Hezbollah and Palestinian targets in Lebanon since the beginning of the year, and the second this week.