IAF jet ‘bombs’ Bedouin village during emergency landing
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IAF jet ‘bombs’ Bedouin village during emergency landing

Plane drops fuel tanks and ammunition as it prepares to land, causing panic among community residents below

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An Israeli F-16 during an exercise on November 25, 2013. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
An Israeli F-16 during an exercise on November 25, 2013. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

An Israel Air Force fighter jet dropped ammunition and fuel tanks in and around an unregistered Bedouin village on Monday causing panic and confusion among the startled residents.

The F-16 plane encountered trouble during a flight and was forced to make an emergency landing in the south of the country. In accordance with standard procedures, the pilot dropped the external munitions and fuel tanks from the plane into an open area of the countryside.

However, the fuel tanks landed scant meters away from residential homes near the unrecognized community of Ramat Tziporim. The munitions hit the ground several hundred meters outside the community.

There were no injuries or damage reported and the plane landed safely.

According to eyewitnesses the first indication that something was amiss came in mid-afternoon when the plane unloaded the fuel tanks which crashed to ground alarming people in the area. Shortly afterwards the munitions fell within earshot although apparently did not explode.

The IDF said the weapons were later neutralized.

“People were panicked and didn’t understand what was going on on the ground and what had happened,” resident Juma’a Tamtawi said according to a report from Ynet. “The whole area is full of children, people didn’t understand why the army turned up in the area. They didn’t talk to anyone.”

“I don’t think that if the same thing happened in Beersheba they would behave like that,” he continued. “They didn’t treat it like it fell in a populated area. I am sure it wasn’t deliberate, but they should explain to us what happened.”

The IDF said it was looking into the incident.

Over the past several years, Israel has tried to implement a policy of moving Bedouin off state lands and into recognized villages, but has been met with fierce opposition, including violent protests that broke out three years ago against the so-called Prawer plan, which has since been shelved.

The government argued that the growing population required planning and urbanization, while Arab activists insisted the plan amounted to a land grab driven by anti-Arab prejudice.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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