Bathers 'Desecrate' IDF War Memorial

Local residents shocked and offended by incident in which families went swimming in a memorial to victims of helicopter tragedy.

Chana Ya'ar ,

'Water does not raise the soul"
'Water does not raise the soul"
Arutz Sheva / Israel news photo

Residents of Sha'ar Yashuv, in northern Israel, expressed their shock at a recent incident, reported by Arutz Sheva, in which a memorial to fallen IDF soldiers was brazenly used as a swimming pool by two unrepentant families, in broad daylight.

The two Hareidi-religious families allowed their children to play in the waters at a monument to the victims of a tragic helicopter crash 16 years ago. Both parents and children were seen bathing in the monument, a pool of water whose mosaic floor is covered with the names of the fallen IDF soldiers who perished in the crash at Sha'ar Yashuv.

In 1997, two IAF Yasur helicopters collided as they were leading fighters to the Lebanese security zone. Seventy-three soldiers were killed in the disaster, including eight Israeli Air Force personnel. 

Passing residents who saw the families cooling off in the monument called out to the tourists, asking them to stop playing in the water.

“Please get out and stop splashing around with your children,” one person said. “You don’t have to respect [the soldiers] but please do not hurt the feelings of their bereaved loved ones. It’s fortunate no family members were nearby.”

One of the bathers, a hareidi-religious man, acknowledged that he knew where he was, and that he recognized the names at the bottom of the pool as those of the helicopter victims.  But that did not stop the children from wearing bathing suits, playing around and splashing water.

“By us, we light yarzheit candles for the soul and recite Tehillim (psalms),” he shouted, arguing with a resident of the area. “Water does not raise a person’s soul, and there’s nothing sacred about it. I prefer to talk to G-d.”

He called on his children to continue playing in the monument pool, adding, “I pay taxes just like you, and I will do here as I please.”

The incident has caused a public outcry in a country where many families have suffered the loss of family members during the numerous wars waged by Arab states and terrorist groups.