On February 4th, 1997, two transport helicopters carrying troops into Israel’s self-declared security zone in Southern Lebanon collided, killing all 73 soldiers aboard. In the aftermath of this terrible national tragedy, four women - Rachel Ben-Dor, Miri Sela, Ronit Nachmias, and Zahara Antavi, who had sons serving in Lebanon and who lived in Kibbutzim and towns in Northern Israel - held a small demonstration at Machaniyan Junction.
They protested the fact that the Israeli government, which had indicated its readiness to pull out of Lebanon in 1985, had done nothing in the intervening 12 years to return to within its international border and had allowed the occupation of Lebanon to continue. During this period hundreds of Israeli soldiers and untold Lebanese have been killed in this "silent war" which nobody in the government has been ready to acknowledge or to end. These women, who took the name The Four Mothers Movement, gained immediate media attention and their numbers quickly swelled, indicating the widespread dissatisfaction and frustration of a large cross-section of the country with the present status quo.
The Four Mothers Movement now has several hundred active members, and has collected over 25,000 signatures in a petition drive throughout the country, addressed at getting the government to leave Lebanon.
The Four Mothers Movement is unique in the country, a truly grassroots organization, not affiliated with any party, drawing supporters from across the political spectrum. While retaining the name The Four Mothers, the movement now includes a variety of concerned citizens: women and men, married and single, with or without children, students, and ex-soldiers, some of whom have themselves served in Lebanon.