Tragedy was averted Wednesday at a training exercise in which the parents of soldiers watched from the ground as their sons parachuted from a military transport plane.
The exercise was held at Palmachim Beach by soldiers from the Paratroopers Battalion, as well as the Maglan and Yahalom units. Similar IDF parachuting events for families have been held at the site for decades.
To the horror of the onlookers, one of the parachutes failed to open. The soldier was in freefall, his body upright – a situation that is known as “ner” (candle).
The soldier reportedly had trouble opening his reserve chute, as well. In a situation like that, the chances of surviving the fall are close to nil.
However, at the last second, the soldier managed to get the spare chute to open.
A military source told Maariv: “Following the event, the Chief Infantry and Paratroopers' Officer appointed a team of inquiry headed by a colonel, which will present its conclusions in the coming weeks. An initial inquiry indicates that the paratrooper operated in accordance with the procedures that are required in emergency situations, as he was taught to do in the training courses and as he was expected to do.”
The event was recorded on video by one of the parents. While it is difficult to make out the parachute that fails to open, the parents can be heard exclaiming at the end of the video that a parachute has failed to open ["lo niftach!"], and then pronouncing with relief "patach!" -- "he has opened [it]".