Independence Day flyover to pass over Hebron, Kiryat Arba for first time – report

Air force planes reportedly to take route over Tomb of the Patriarchs in West Bank city; report comes days after UAE airlines cancel participation over Temple Mount clashes

People watch an IDF Air Force flyover on Israel's 73rd Independence Day celebrations at Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People watch an IDF Air Force flyover on Israel's 73rd Independence Day celebrations at Sacher Park in Jerusalem, April 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The upcoming Independence Day flyover will, for the first time, pass over the West Bank city of Hebron, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as well as the settlement of Kiryat Arba, the Kan public broadcaster reported on Sunday.

The flyover is a popular and iconic feature of Independence Day celebrations, attracting crowds across the country.

Kan reported that the route the Israel Air Force’s aerobatic team is slated to take during the flyover will include the West Bank locations.

Kiryat Arba council chairman Eliyahu Libman told Kan that he welcomed the decision by the Air Force to include the settlement on its route this year.

“I would like to thank the commanders of the Air Force for accepting the requests of the people and for sending the festive flight also over the skies of Kiryat Arba and Hebron on Independence Day for the first time,” he said.

“This is another brick in the development of the land and the settlement of Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical phrase for the West Bank.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the West Bank town of Hebron, June 22, 2017. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, considered one of the holiest in Judaism, is believed to have been used as a burial plot by the biblical patriarch Abraham. The Abraham connection makes it holy to Muslims as well.

In July 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization passed a resolution to have the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the Old City of Hebron in the West Bank, designated as a Palestinian world heritage site in danger. It is also often a site of clashes and attacks.

Hebron and Kiryat Arba are not the only West Bank localities the Air Force is slated to fly over — the Gush Etzion settlement bloc is also included in the route, Kan said.

The flyover is set to begin at 10 a.m. on May 5, with show and military aircraft crossing the entire length of the country, from the northern city of Kiryat Shmona to the southern resort town of Eilat. The Israeli Air Force has uploaded a special interactive map showing the event timetable, plane types, and routes

The Kan report came days after two Emirati airlines announced they were canceling their participation in the civilian section of the flyover, in light of the ongoing tensions between Israel and the United Arab Emirates over clashes between police and Palestinian rioters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The Israel Air Line Pilots Association originally announced that the May 5 event — dubbed the Peace Fly-by 2022 — was slated to include aircraft from Emirati Etihad Airways and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi alongside planes from Israeli airlines.

Sources at Etihad later told the Israel Airline Pilots Association that they will not be able to take part in the aerial display due to not having enough time to prepare, according to Army Radio, with senior officials confirming that the real reason was the clashes at the Temple Mount.

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