The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday apologized for frightening residents of central Israel with an unannounced flyby over Tel Aviv by multiple fighter jets earlier in the day.
“The army is sorry for the panic that was caused,” it said in a statement.
The military explained that the flyby was part of the preparations for its annual Independence Day flyover, which is scheduled to take place next Thursday.
“These dry runs take place as part of the [air] force’s desire to ensure a safe, high quality, and respectful flyover for the 70th Independence Day,” the army said.
The IDF also released a schedule for additional training flights in the coming days.
Tel Aviv residents were startled to hear the roar of jet engines and see aircraft performing aerial maneuvers.
Posted by Victoria Pas on Thursday, 12 April 2018
The Tel Aviv police hotline was inundated with a flood of phone calls from residents concerned by the sudden appearance of multiple fighter jets overhead.
Locals also frantically took to social media in search of answers and posted videos of the aircraft.
The army and police quickly released calming messages, explaining that they were test flights ahead of next Thursday’s annual flyover.
“Ahead of the 70th Independence Day for the State of Israel, training exercises are being conducting in the skies over the country for the teams that are taking part in the flyover,” the army said.
In order to prevent future scares, the IDF announced that planes could be expected to be heard overhead:
– On Sunday, from 9:50 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., over the Sea of Galilee
– On Monday, from 10:05 a.m. to 10:25 a.m., over the Tel Aviv coast
– On Monday, from 10:35 a.m. to 11:10 a.m., over the Haifa coast
– On Monday, from 1:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m., over the Sea of Galilee
– On Monday, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:10 p.m., over the Jezreel Valley
– On Monday, from 2:25 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., over Jerusalem’s Sacher Park
– On Monday, from 4:35 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., over Beersheba
– On Tuesday, from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., over the Tel Aviv coast
– On Tuesday, from 10:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., over Jerusalem’s Sacher Park
The annual aerial demonstration, known in Hebrew as the matas, features fighter jets, transport planes, acrobatic aircraft, and helicopters flying past major Israeli cities and towns to delight local residents with a show of military power.
Residents appeared to be more anxious than in previous years, likely owing to tensions with Syria and, to a lesser extent, Gaza.
On Monday, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike on an Iran-controlled air base in Syria, prompting threats of retaliation from both Damascus and Tehran.
The United States has also indicated that it might conduct its own strikes inside Syria, in response to a chemical weapons attack allegedly perpetrated by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad against the rebel-held town of Douma.
Russia, Assad’s main ally, has vowed to intervene if the US conducts a strike.