Canadian-born Israeli pilot dies in crash

THE GLOBE AND MAIL
WEDNESDAY, JULY 26, 2006
TORONTO

Canadian-born Israeli pilot dies in crash
The army is investigating the possibility that helicopter was downed by friendly fire.

BY CAROLYNNE WHEELER, JERUSALEM
AND HAYLEY MICE, TORONTO 


Tom Farkas was supposed to spend this week at a Muskoka cottage, kicking back and relaxing with friends, perhaps water-skiing under a warm Ontario sun. 
Instead, the extended family and friends of the Canadian born soldier gathered last night at his family's home in the Israeli seaside community of caesarea to grieve and share bittersweet memories of the 
helicopter pilot. 

Captain Farkash was killed Monday, along with his co-pilot. when their Apache Longbow went down north of Safed near the Lebanese border. He was the 41St Israeli to die in 14 days of fighting against Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. 
“His friends, his friends’ friends, his girlfriend -they’re all here,” said Capt. Farkash' uncle, Rick Kojfman, who arrived in Israel from Toronto with other family members yesterday afternoon. 

Among them was the captain’s father Dorom Farkash, a commercial pilot with the Israeli airline, EL AL, who had been on a stopover in Toronto when he heard the terrible news that his only son had been killed. 

There was also his grandmother, a Toronto resident, and cousin Alex Kojfman. 27, whose mother gathered her three grown sons in her North York home and broke the news. “What can you say?" Nitza Kojfman said. 
“You look at each other and say this must be a nightmare.... Such a beautiful boy. A beautiful soul, too.” 
capt. Farkash was born at Toronto’s Mount Sinai HospitaL He attended an Associated Hebrew School in Toronto before emigrating to Israel at the age of 10 with his family 

He retained his Canadian ties, spending every summer in Toronto and in cottage country in Bracebridge, Ont., with relatives. 
Capt. Farkash was supposed to spend his 23rd birthday. on July 18, in Canada. But when Hezbollah guerrillas attacked an Israeli army post two weeks ago, killing eight soldiers arid kidnapping two, those plans were put on bold. 
 

 

 

 

“We were just going to hang out,” Rick Kojfman said last night. 
On completing high school and his compulsory enlistment, Capt. Farkash followed in his father’s footsteps and signed up for the air force, which requires three to five years of service beyond the traditional three-year commitment to military service. At his death, he had put in five years. 

He was a good pilot, but flying was not a long-term career plan, his family said. He planned to finish his service, then travel and further his education. An “amazing” guitar player, he was also an avid skier and snowboarder. 
“He was totally the opposite of what you would expect in a combat p/2 helicopter pilot.” his uncle said. “He was tall. He was handsome. He was fit. But …he wasn't one of those guys that lived for flying. 
";You're talking about someone that had an extraordinary Love of life." 

Also difficult for the family is not knowing why the young pilot died.
capt. Farkash's helicopter had joined another to provide backup for ground forces and was still over Israeli territory when it plummeted to earth. 
The military has opened an investigation into the crash, and the 
theory now gaining ground is that friendly fire downed the helicopter. The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday. The family now describes that theory as being the "dominant plausibility.” 
“Something just doesn’t add up,” Rick Kojfman said. “But that's the way war is.” 
He said his nephew had expressed concern over how the war was being fought, with Hezbollah militant targets inside the civilian population, but that he worked very hard” to do his duty. 
“He was conflicted about the way we have to fight with our hands behind our backs,” Mr Kojfman said. 
A funeral was held for Capt. Farkash yesterday in Israel. Organizers say he will likely also be remembered at the Stand with Israel rally set to take place in Toronto today. 
Mr Farkash leaves his parents, his sisters, 11 and 16, and a girlfriend of five years. 

Carolynne Wheeler is a freelance reporter based in Jerusalem

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