Syria Tensions: Unannounced Air Force Flyover Terrifies Central Israel

Calls from concerned citizens pour into police hotlines as jet fighters dominate its skyline, in what was later revealed to be rehearsals for Israel's Independence Day celebrations

Israeli F-15 fighter jets over Tel Aviv, April 12, 2018
JACK GUEZ/AFP

Israeli jet fighters appeared over the skies of central Israel Thursday, alarming citizens as they circled low amid rising tensions in the Middle East, in what was later revealed to be an unannounced flyover rehearsal for Israel's Independence Day celebrations. The army later appologized for causing the scare.

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During the flyover, Israeli jets fired flares from a system designed to counter anti-aircraft missiles. For a layman watching, these could seem like missile fire from the fighter jets.

The IDF usually notifies the public regarding training drills involving increased military activity.

>> Revenge by Iran could push Israel to terminate Tehran's presence in Syria ■ Syria showdown could spark Israeli-Iranian and U.S.-Russian clashes

Calls from concerned Tel Aviv residents poured into police hotlines, prompting the Israeli Defense Forces to clarify it was a training drill. Many Israelis went on social media and criticized the fact that there was no early notice in the media - particulalry in light of Iran's recent threats to exact revenge on Israel for the strike in Syria. 

On Tuesday, Israel was put on high alert after Tehran said its "crime won’t go unanswered,” referring to the airstrike on the Syrian T-4 base attributed to Israel by Russia.

Concurrently, Western countries have discussed a military response to a a suspected chemical attack in a Damascus suburb town that reportedly killed dozens of citizens. The Kremlin, Syria's strongest ally, responded it would shoot down any missile fired at Syria and would also target its launching site, raising probability of a larger-scale confrontation in the region.

U.S. President Trump responded by tweeting that America's missiles were "coming". Russian President Vladimir Putin has since discussed the matter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him not to take action in Syria.