(Anadolu). The Jerusalem Post reported that two Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) pilots and a patrol officer were onboard the Navy aircraft when it went down off the coast of the city of Haifa.
The officer was rescued shortly after the crash and was flown to Rambam Hospital in moderate condition.
The pilots were discovered after a lengthy search but died despite resuscitation efforts.
The crash took place during a training flight.
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“2 IDF officers were killed and 1 moderately injured when an IAF maritime helicopter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Haifa during a training flight last night.
Rescue teams, including Israel’s Special Forces Underwater Missions Unit, were deployed to the site immediately. However, they were unable to save two pilots who were declared dead on the scene.
The air force commanding officer opened an investigation into the crash and ordered temporary discontinuation of training flights, as well as the use of the maritime Panther helicopter.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the two pilots who lost their lives,” the IDF said later in a post on its Twitter account.
While Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said two military pilots who were killed in a helicopter crash were “the best of us” on Tuesday morning.
“This is a very sad night. On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the helicopter accident and a swift recovery for the injured officer,” Bennett said.
Military spokesperson Ran Kochav criticized the publication of news of the casualties “before it was allowed to be published.”
“The publication of the news before the families of the casualties had been officially notified, despite explicit requests to not publish the details, is a blatant violation of procedure that has been respected for decades, based on concern for families at a difficult time,” Kochav said.