Above image: Eilat, ISRAEL-February 24, 2019: UH 60 from Multinational Force and Observers at old Eilat international Airport.
The coalition force that monitors the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement said yesterday, Nov. 12, 2020, seven military members of a peacekeeping force in Egypt lost their lives after their helicopter crashed during a mission in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
This included one Czech, one French, and five American Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) members. One American survived, sustaining a heavy injury from the crash. The crash happened in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh, the MFO said in a statement.
General Jonathan Vance, Chief of Defence Staff, offered his condolences over Twitter yesterday afternoon.
“Very sorry to hear of the tragic loss of eight members of the Multinational Force & Observers in the Sinai Peninsula today. To our American, French and Czech allies, know that the Canadian Armed Forces grieves with you.” JV@thejointstaff @EtatMajorFR @ArmadaCR
— Admiral/Amiral Art McDonald (@CDS_Canada_CEMD) November 12, 2020
Names of the members involved in the crash are being held pending the notification of next of kin.
The MFO says the helicopter crash on Thursday morning appears to be mechanical in nature, and a full investigation is underway.
They wished the one U.S. MFO Member who survived the crash a speedy recovery, and they ‘greatly appreciate the co-operation and support of Egypt and Israel.’
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these soldiers at this difficult time,” they continued to comment, “The incident is a reminder of the sacrifices MFO Members make in support of the cause of peace.”
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Operations issued the following statement on their Facebook page yesterday offering their condolences:
“CAF Operations offers our heartfelt condolences to the entire MFO team in the Sinai Peninsula and to the deployed CAF members of Operation CALUMET following today’s fatal helicopter crash.
“While no CAF personnel were involved, those who lost their lives were our friends and our partners in peace. To our American, French, and Czech allies, we stand with you in mourning and in resolve during this challenging time.
“As expressed across the CAF on Remembrance Day: ‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.'”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing ‘its deepest sorrow’ following the deaths of eight personnel of the MFO in Sinai. “The Multinational Force and Observers is stationed in Sinai as a result of the peace agreement with Egypt and is highly regarded for its work,” it read.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi said, “I send my sincere condolences to the families of those killed and wish a speedy recovery to all of the wounded.
“The contribution of the Multinational Force and Observers to maintaining security and stability in the region is extremely important, and I would like to express my gratitude to the countries that are contributing to the security and peace between Israel and Egypt.”
Thirteen countries contribute troops to the MFO, including Canada, with the United States making up the largest contingent.
Its responsibilities include monitoring troop levels along the border and ensuring freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.
Security in the area has deteriorated in recent years amid a campaign of violence being carried out by a local ISIS affiliate that has targeted civilians and government forces.
In 2016, after a series of militant attacks, the U.S. moved a large number of forces further south to where it was deemed safer and increased the use of remote technology like cameras to carry out the mission.