Unannounced aerial drill jolts Tel Aviv
On the backdrop of heightened tensions with Syria, Iran, unannounced aerial rehearsal in preparation for planned aerial demonstration on Israel's 70th Independence Day rocks Tel Aviv, alarms enough residents to force police to issue public announcement reassuring public; IAF releases next week's schedule.
F-15s flew Thursday morning in the skies of Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel, deploying flares, performing aerobatics and alarming residents with sonic booms on the backdrop of mounting tensions with Syria and Iran.
The flyover, done in preparation for planned aerial demonstration on Israel's 70th Independence Day, was not announced by the IDF Spokesperson Unit ahead of time, as is the norm.
According to the police, many residents called the emergency services number to know the reason for the flyover. So many, in fact, that the police was forced to issue a public announcement to reassure the general public the jets were not deployed for operational activities.
The exercise was scheduled in advance, and the IDF usually updates trainings or exercises that cause heavy movement of military equipment in public spaces.
Earlier this week, Ynet contacted the IDF after residents of Tel Aviv noticed planes flying low over their homes, but the army did not clarify the circumstances of the flights.
IDF announces next week's schedule
In the wake of the Thursday morning panic, the IDF apologized and released the schedule for next week’s aerial practice fly-overs ahead of the Independence Day fly-over.
The schedule is as follows:
Sunday: Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee area between the hours of 9:50-10:15am.
Monday: Tel Aviv (beach) between 10:05 and 10:20am.
The Haifa area between 10:35 and 11:10am.
Tiberias (Kinneret) between the hours of 1:30-1:50pm.
The Jezreel Valley between 1:30 and 2:10pm.
Jerusalem (Sacher Park) between the hours of 2:25-2:45pm.
Beer Sheva between the hours of 4:35-5:00pm.
The IDF also said that there may be additional aerial training activity on Tuesday in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv between the hours of 10:45-11:45am.
Foreign air forces to join air show
The traditional aerial demonstration will also include aircrafts of foreign air forces this year. Representatives of the countries will arrive in Israel next week and take part in the 70th anniversary celebrations of the state alongside dozens of IDF planes, helicopters and ships.
The aircrafts will include a Greek F-16, a Polish C-17 transport aircraft, a Canadian C-295 transport aircraft, a British C-130 transport aircraft, a similar Austrian aircraft and an Italian Eurofighter.
The IDF said the demonstration will showcase Israel's cooperation with the foreign nations and will help "maintain diplomatic relations between the countries."
The demonstration will fly over over 49 cities and towns, from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat, with F-35, F-16, F-16I and the relatively new training plane, the M-346.
Alongside these will be flying Apache helicopters, the CH-53 Sea Stallion and the UH-60 Black Hawk, and a variety of transport planes, from a Boeing 707-based refueling aircraft, the C-130 Hercules and the C-130J Super Hercules, to the B200 King Air and the Gulfstream V, which are mainly used in reconnaissance and intelligence missions.
The aircrafts will also include civilian aircraft: Arkia's Boeing 757, El Al's Boeing 787 Dreamliner, three Air Tractor AT-802 planes belonging to the police fire brigade and three police H125 Airbus helicopters.
Itay Blumenthal, Yoav Zitun and Eli Senyor contributed to this report.