Twenty years have passed since the Shayetet (an elite ‘Israeli' naval unit) disaster in Lebanon, or the Ansariyeh Operation. On that day, 11 "Shayetat 13" fighters and one member from the rescue force were killed. The Minister of Construction and Housing, Yoav Galant, who headed this unit in 1996 - exactly one year before the disaster - recalled the night of the worst incident in the history of the Shayetet.
"At 3:00 AM, I received a disturbing call from Erez Zukerman, who was one of my followers and a friend of Lieutenant-Colonel Yossi Korakin, the deputy commander of the Shayetet and the head of the force. During the call, I was informed about a deadly confrontation and casualties, and that Korakin might be among the wounded," Galant said.
The Shayetet force included 16 fighters led by Korakin. The mission of the force was to ambush a Hezbollah official near the coastal town of Ansariyeh. The force was divided into an advanced group and a rear one. After the fighters arrived on Lebanese territory, a roadside bomb exploded, leading to the separation of the two groups.
"I arrived at Atlit at about 6 AM, coinciding with the arrival of the fighters' equipment by helicopter. The equipment was smashed. I saw that it contained spherical bodies that our troops did not carry. They were Klimgore explosives that the "enemy" used. I immediately realized the involvement of the "enemy". They tried to hide the incident, but it began and ended with an ambush set up by Hezbollah after an unguarded activity by the intelligence division. The ‘Israeli' army has clarified several years ago that the incident was related to Hezbollah's ambush, which succeeded in discovering the army's plans and estimated a certain path the soldiers would take during one night. Various investigation committees have looked into the incident."
The bomb explosion disconnected the front force with the rear force, which is the core and included 11 fighters. In a short time, the exchange of fire began and another bomb exploded. Eleven fighters were killed, including Lieutenant Colonel Korakin while four others, one of them from the rear force, were wounded.
An initial rescue force began evacuating the dead and wounded. During the evacuation, an armored vehicle passed near the force and opened fire. During the battle, the accompanying doctor Major Maher Daghash was killed. The Air Force Command, which was monitoring the incident from the Hikariya base in Tel Aviv pressed to end it as soon as possible. However, the rescue force continued to search the Lebanese territories and succeeded in locating the bodies of the chiefs of staff Yohanan Heilberg and Itamar Elit. Elit's body, however, remained there and was returned to ‘Israel' about a year later.
Galant concluded by saying "Lessons were learned because there were no such events since then. In recent years, there has been an attempt to attribute the incident to a bomb explosion resulting from some sort of technical failure, but Hezbollah had pre-emptive information. We can understand from the images that Hezbullah's ambush activated explosive devices that hit the force."
*Quoted from the "Walla!" website