Israeli pilot reveals how targets are selected: ‘Gaza is a densely populated area; we only strike what is necessary’

Major N., who has been flying and striking deep within the Gaza Strip since the very beginning of the war, says that inside the cockpit the pilot must filter out all irrelevant thoughts and maintain unwavering focus

From the very first day of the Swords of Iron war, the Israeli Air Force has been tirelessly engaged, striking numerous targets deep within the Gaza Strip. It has effectively neutralized Hamas terrorists and supported ground forces during their incursion.
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Major "N.", a 28-year-old commander at the flight school in Mitzpe Ramon, was called into action on October 7. Within a matter of hours, he was already in the air, launching operations in the Gaza Strip. In an interview with Ynet, he shared insights about the intense month from the skies.
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טייסת 107
טייסת 107
Israeli Air Force
(Photo: Amit Agronov, IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
"Gaza is a densely populated area. Even during routine attacks, we are vigilant to avoid harm to the innocent and only target what is necessary. Getting approval to launch a ton-weight bomb requires careful consideration to prevent collateral damage."
"We do a lot of flights, and also take breaks waiting for our round again," Maj. N. says. "On October 7, I was at my home in Tel Aviv, I woke up to the rocket sirens, and understood something was not right. I got into my car and drove to the base. Within an hour, I was already in the air en route to the Gaza Strip. Since then and until now that's what we have been doing. Some people left their families, some came from abroad, everyone joined the fighting, they didn't even wait to be called, they just arrived."
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תקיפות צה"ל בעזה
תקיפות צה"ל בעזה
Israeli Air Force strike in Gaza
(Photo: EPA/Mohammed Saber)
"There is also a great cooperation with other corps in the military," N. said. "There’s a real envelope around the ground forces. Fighter planes make direct contact with the troops. Combat helicopters engage in direct contact with the ground and attack the threat. When the Air Force is above them, the ground forces feel safe. It also gives us a lot of strength, to see the forces in the field.”
How much do you think about the Israeli hostages when you embark on an airstrike?
"The issue of Israeli hostages and missing persons is a harrowing one for all of us. We stand in solidarity with the families of the hostages and the missing, as well as with the bereaved families. When on a mission, it's crucial to filter out any thoughts irrelevant to the task at hand - be it hostages, family matters, or fallen comrades. Inside the cockpit, you must remain focused on the mission and execute your orders. The knowledge and power are not within me; there are wiser individuals in command who calculate to ensure our capabilities are not compromised. I trust them and carry out my duties to the best of my ability. The mistake would be to dwell on these matters, rather than performing the mission to the best of our ability and causing irreversible harm, as we say in the Air Force – a grave mistake. To avoid such a mistake, one must maintain unwavering focus."
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What happens when you realize that there might be civilians in the target?
"I won't delve into this completely, but I will say that it involves a great deal of scrutiny and a multitude of halted operations due to concerns of non-involved parties. It's not just a random occurrence; it's highly organized and overseen by high-ranking individuals. It's not solely the pilot's decision in the field to determine whether to engage or not. Information from the surroundings doesn't always reach us to keep us focused on the equation and execute the mission as planned. Generally, we are aware of the level of involvement and the outcome, as we're the ones applying pressure and calling the shots."
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