Israeli Air Force fighter planes conducted unannounced preparatory flights over central Israel on Thursday ahead of next week’s Independence Day flyover, sending residents into a mild panic as the roar of the jets could be heard throughout the region.
The fighter planes made multiple passes over Tel Aviv and could be seen performing low-altitude aerial maneuvers in the skies over the city.
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 frantically took to social media in search of answers and posted videos of the aircraft.
Posted by Victoria Pas on Thursday, 12 April 2018
The army promptly provided an explanation, saying in a statement that the maneuvers were part of preparations for next week’s scheduled flyby.
“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.
Each year, the Israeli Air Force conducts the aerial demonstration, known in Hebrew as the matas, sending its fighter jets, transport planes, acrobatic aircraft and helicopters to fly 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 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.