Israel scares Tel Aviv residents with air force practice as Syria tension mounts


By Middle East Affairs

Israeli police experienced many fearful phone calls Thursday as warplanes flew over the Tel Aviv coast, dropping anti-missile flares during a time of tension with Syria and Iran.

The planes were just practicing for the Israeli Air Force’s annual Independence Day national flypast on April 19, but as Reuters reported, no prior announcement was made to warn the city’s residents.

“Many calls were received from worried citizens about noise from a squadron of planes in the Tel Aviv area,” police said in statement. “We would like to make clear they were training for the Independence Day aerial display. There’s no emergency.”

The news agency said two F-15 jets flew over Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean beach, making sharp turns, climbs and dives “in what appeared to be a mock dogfight as the sound of their engines crackled through the streets.”

An Iranian base in Syria received air strikes last weekend in what seemed to be a response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma. Seven of those who died in the target were Iranians. Russia, Syria and Iran all accused Israel of carrying out the attack, and Russia said Israeli F-15 jets carried it out. Israel has neither confirmed or denied the accusations.

Iran has threatened a response.

Reuters said in Israel the sirens blared for two minutes during the morning to mark Holocaust remembrance, and civil defense authorities advised civilians that in the event of a real emergency the sirens would make a rising and falling sound, rather than a constant tone as they had for the moment of solidarity.

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