The Israeli Air Force (IAF) lost one of its S-65C-3 Yas’ur heavy-lift transport helicopters on the first day of the surprise Palestinian attack, Channel 12 and other Israel news sources revealed on October 13.
The helicopter, which was carrying a group of special forces, crash landed near the settlement of Be’eri, more than four kilometers to the east of the Gaza Strip, on the morning of October 7 and was later blown up during the battle in the settlement by fighters from the Hamas Movement with an anti-tank projectile.
Be’eri was one of several settlements near Gaza which were stormed on that day by Palestinian fighters in an attack led by Hamas.
The special forces group that was being transported by the Yas’ur helicopter was most likely from the IAF’s elite Shaldag Unit, which reportedly lost at least 20 of its service members during the battle in Be’eri.
The Yas’ur is a special expert version of the American-made CH-53D for Israel. The IAF maintains some 22 helicopters of this type, all of which were upgraded and improved by the Israel Aircraft Industries. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) mainly uses these helicopters to to land and extract special forces on raids and patrols deep behind enemy lines.
Photos of the destroyed helicopter near Be’eri were posted on social media on October 14. The IDF confirmed of its helicopters was hit, without providing any details.
This was the IDF’s first confirmed aerial loss since the outbreak of the battle in Gaza. At least 1,300 Israelis were killed and more than 3,400 were wounded in the initial Palestinian attack. Hundreds others were captured or went missing.
Israel’s material losses were not any better. According to lostarmour.info, a Russian website that tracks and documents military losses, at least 101 vehicles of the IDF were destroyed, damaged or captured by Palestinian fighters. The number includes ten of Israel’s advanced Merkava Mark 4 main battle tanks and 19 Namer armored personnel carriers.
In addition, the IDF acknowledged several casualties from the 947th Battalion of its Air Defense Forces which operates an Iron Dome air defense system. This led to speculation that at least one such system was destroyed by Palestinian fighters.
In response to these heavy losses, the IDF has been bombarding Gaza since the first hours of the attack and is reportedly preparing to invade the strip. Israeli strikes claimed the lives of more than 2,200 Palestinains, including hundreds of children and women.