Two soldiers died tragically yesterday in what would seem to have been preventable accidents. The incident that grabbed the top headlines was at Mount Herzl where a lighting rig fell during practice for the next week’s Independence Day ceremony, crushing to death 20-year-old Hila Betzaleli from Mevesseret Zion.
The other death was 19-year-old Yehoshua Hefetz who collapsed during an exercise at the Combat Engineering Corps. in the Negev desert where he was training for the group’s elite Sayeret Yahalom special operations unit. First reports were that he was severely dehydrated on an unusually hot day with high winds and lots of dust. The army says it was cardiac arrest, although a post-mortem electrocardiogram performed at Eilat’s Yoseftal Medical Center showed no evidence of any congenital heart defect.
The second death hit closer to home: our daughter knew the young man, a Jerusalemite, through a mutual friend and went to high school with Hefetz’s sister. She texted me yesterday quite upset, understandably.
The two incidents – the second one in particular – always raise the question of “how could they have let this happen?” We send our children off to the army and entrust that the IDF will take care of them. War is one thing, but training accidents are particularly tragic.
And there have been others: earlier this year, Private Dvir Moor died after contracting an infection during basic training. And two years ago, another training incident claimed the life of Omri Shoshan was accidentally shot in the back.
I know that sh*t happens. As a parent, I have sometimes imagined locking my children in the house so that they’d be free from any harm out in the big scary world. I can’t imagine our children would agree.
Our daughter said that Hefetz’s father had died just two months ago. He is survived by his mother and two sisters. Our hearts go out to him and Hila Betzaleli. May their families know no more sorrow.