Gantz: IDF will continue to operate along northern frontier ‘as much as necessary’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says the Israel Defense Forces will continue to operate along the frontier “as much as necessary.”

Gantz makes his remarks during a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the so-called helicopters disaster, when two helicopters that were transporting soldiers to Israeli bases in Lebanon collided, killing the 73 troops on board.

“Seventy-three commanders and soldiers fell on their way across the northern border, a place that still draws our gaze today, where we are operating and where we will continue to operate as much as necessary in order to preserve the security of Israel,” he says, without referring to any specific threats from the north.

Discussing the 1997 crash, which he describes as “one of the worst disasters to occur in the IDF,” Gantz notes two recent deadly accidents in the military, one involving a helicopter that crashed for as yet unclear reasons, killing the two pilots on board, and a fatal case of friendly fire in the elite Egoz Unit, in which two officers were killed by a fellow soldier due to mistaken identity.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“In recent weeks we have also known mistakes and accidents that cost lives in the air force and the Egoz Unit. We are now fulfilling our threefold responsibility — investigating and learning lessons, without blinking and without doing anyone any favors, as is our ethical and organizational duty; to return the teams and the units to their operations and their operational routines; and to accompany the families of the bereaved, who are dear to our hearts, and those who are injured in body and spirit,” Gantz says.

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