Saturday, July 2, 2011


On 4 February 1997, two helicopters collided in mid-air above the small settlement She'ar Yashuv in north Israel. All 73 soldiers that were on these helicopters were killed on the spot. One of the helicopters fell on a rental vacation room that was not in use; the other fell on open field near kibbutz Dafna. The day of February 6 was declared an official day of mourning.

We visited the place of the disaster last month on our way to Mt. Hermon (see previous post about the trip to the mountain) - to contemplate the memorial honoring the memory of the 73 soldiers , and pay our respects.

There's a monument at She'ar Yashuv, but the main official memorial was inaugurated eleven(11) years after the crash, near kibbutz Dafna's cemetery.

The memorial site is peaceful and solemn, yet very impressive. Seventy-three(73) beautiful rocks are scattered on a green lawn. There are holes in the rocks that make it possible for the visitor to light a tea candle. On the black edges around a pool are the names of the fallen soldiers written in white - and from the round pool, a narrow stream of water flows towards a large rock covered with plaques; the writing on these plaques tells the story of the deadly collision.

the rocks

tea candle holder in the hole

black granite edges with the names of the soldiers

the rock that tells the story of the crash

From this rock a narrow path leads to the trees where, according to the news at that time, parts of the helicopter and bodies fell upon. The tree branches bear small stone plaques with the names of the soldiers, photos, and other 'mementos'. This is the "spontaneous " memorial that has been created in the first years after the disaster.

plaques with names on the tree branches

a soldier's photo and his 'kipa' (tiny head cover)

On the southeast edge of the She'ar Yashuv settlement there's the "Forest of the Fallen" with seventy-three (73) trees to remember the 73 victims of the helicopter crash.

To sum up the disaster : 73 dead young men - 73 names - 73 rocks -73 trees - hundreds of broken living hearts.- and the grief of a whole nation.


  1. Tragedies happen regularly, but such a memorial, caring and organic, only rarely. Thanks for posting about it.

  2. A beautiful tribute to the fallen soldiers. I love the idea of 73 rocks placed for each one and then the names around the pool a refreshing honor to those who serve. Peace

  3. What a lovely memorial. The peacefulness of the place oozes from your photos Duta.

  4. It is an interesting place, not because of the accident, but those rocks placed on that green lawn.

    Indeed! Looks a very quiet place.
    Well done, Duta! Another great post.

  5. Dimple,

    Yes, it's a rare memorial. It took eleven years to raise the necessary funds and find the artist that will do it.

    Lady Di Tn,

    This memorial was designed by a well-known sculptor, and the result is very beautiful and touching, indeed.


    It is open space, and the only sound is that of water.
    Even the visitors walk around in silence.


    Thanks for your kind words.
    The rocks are a great sight, indeed. Also the round pool.

  6. That sounds like a respectful memorial. I like how the informal one remains standing as well.

  7. One can only have respect for all soldiers. Whether we agree with the fight or the battle, we have to respect the men and women that give their lives. This is a beautiful and fitting memorial for those brave soldiers.

  8. Between your words, your photos and the descriptions I was moved to tears. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Such a Tragedy!
    But I have to say that the 73 Rocks are a great Idea. They are Natural & will always be there, unless humans interfere & move them away.

  10. JoLynne Lyon,

    Respectful ,indeed. The same word applies to the monument at She'ar Yashuv (whose picture I failed to display here, but it can be viewed on the Web).


    I couln't have phrased it better. The memorial is ,indeed, a fine tribute to those young, brave people who lost their lives so tragically.

    Tanya Reimer,

    You're welcome. Thanks for your kind, sensitive words.


    It was, I think, The biggest helicopter disaster in history.
    I totally agree with you about the rocks as a great idea.

  11. Duta, that is a beautiful memorial to a very sad day!
    Thank you for sharing!
    You did a wonderful post on it!

    Margie :)

  12. This is one of the best memorials that I have seen. Maybe I love the rocks, nice tribute

  13. Margie,

    Thank you for your kind words, Margie. It is indeed beautiful and sad.


    I'm sure of that. It's beautiful, original, and it perfectly blends with the landscape.

  14. You are right. The pool is also amazing.

  15. A sad story but the tribute is a well deserved and beautiful one.. I was born 4 February

  16. Very sorry ... Too bad, so many brave men ...
    It is very touching memorial and the pictures you showed the dramatic ...
    Many greetings and good summer!

  17. robert,

    Thanks for visiting again to stress the contribution of the pool to the beauty of the memorial.

    Poetic Soul,

    I wish you only happy events in your life including on your Birthday - the 4th of February.


    Yes, indeed "brave men" and "touching memorial".
    A fine summer to you too, Magda!


    Only one word, but it says it all: the rocks stand silent, the names are silent, even the visitors walk around in silence.

  18. It's been too long since I've visited your blog Duta. A lot of thought went into this monument and a good way to remember those who died for your country.

  19. Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, "a lot of thought" went into this memorial and the result is great.

  20. What a beautiful tribute to these soldiers. If I was a family member, I probably would find it too painful to visit this site; but I hope those that do visit, can find some comfort.

  21. Bica,

    Thanks for your comment.

    It took a long time to raise the funds, find the right designer and material, but it was worth waiting. The result is indeed beautiful. For the family members it's no consolation for their loss, but still, an appropriate tribute to the memory of their beloved.