Defense Forces helicopter crashed Saturday evening on Lebanese territory. IDF officials estimated that a missile fired by Hizbullah terrorists at the helicopter, apparently an anti-tank missile, caused it to crash.
The chopper managed to drop the fighters, took off, and was then hit. There were reports of injuries.
Official sources in Lebanon claimed that Hizbullah brought down the helicopter. Hizbullah claimed that its people shot down the helicopter with a Waad missile.
Irsael Air Force Commander Eliezer Shkedy noted on Saturday evening that he appreciates the courage and decisiveness of the fighters operating in Lebanon, both on the ground and on the air, and instructed the Air Force to continue to operate in all the missions while supporting and helping the forces operating in Lebanon as much as required.
A senior Air Force officer referred to the incident: "The helicopter was hit by a missile fired at it, hit the ground and caught fire. Helicopters are fired at a lot in all regions. The operations we are doing are dangerous, but there are also successes."
"The place where the incident occurred is under our control. But in spite of the incident, we are continuing with our operations as usual, providing forces and rescuing the injured," he said.
Dozens of helicopters brought large forces
into southern Lebanon over the weekend as part of the expansion of the military operation, in the greatest landing operation since the Yom Kippur War.
Starting Friday night, an airlift began moving from the northern border into Lebanon, and the helicopters landed a great number of forces inside the field.
A large number of aircraft participated in the mission, including Yanshuf and Yasur helicopters flown by reserve and standing army pilots. Simultaneous to landing the forces, supplies for soldiers were also airdropped from the helicopters.
This is the fourth aerial accident since the onset of the fighting in Lebanon. Colonel Zvi Luft, 42, of Hogla and First Lieutenant Tom Farkah, 23, of Caesarea, were killed on July 24 after the Apache helicopter they were flying in suddenly sank for an unknown reason, hit a power line and crashed on the ground,
not far from Safed.
Major Ran Yehoshua Kochva, 37, of Beit Hanania, was killed on July 21, and three soldiers were wounded as two Apache (Cobra) combat helicopters on their way to Lebanon to assist IDF forces operating against Hizbullah terrorists near Avivim collided and then crashed
in the Ramot Naftali area, near the Koach Junction south of Kiryat Shmona. Rescue forces were mobilized to the scene.
The circumstances of the incident were unclear, but IDF officials stressed that it was not caused by Hizbullah firing at the choppers. IAF Commander Eliezer Shekdy established a commission of inquiry into the incident.
A day earlier, another accident almost ended in disaster on Wednesday, when a Sufa-type F-16 fighter jet encountered difficulties during takeoff, causing the pilots to eject at their southern Air Force base. The two were not injured, and the plane was stopped on the runway through a special net.