Two F-16A jets from the “First Jet” squadron that operates from IAF Base Ramat David attacked two terrorist tunnels in Gaza Friday, but the mission was put on hold twice out of concern for civilian lives.
The tunnels were in Rafiah and Khan Younes and are believed to have served terrorists. Both tunnels were situated in the midst of residential areas. The two pilots – both reservists – identified accurate hits on target and secondary explosions. The IAF jets returned safely to base.
The attack was mounted in retaliation for terrorists' firing of a short range Kassam rocket Saturday morning at an area within the Sdot Negev local authority's jurisdiction. That rocket was fired by a terror group named the “Salah a-Din Brigades”, which said it was a retaliation for the IDF's killing of a member of the group earlier in the week.
Lt.-Col. A., the squadron's commander, told the IAF website: “In the course of the attack we identified uninvolved passersby. We had to stop everything twice. We simply stop [in such situations], wait until the passersby move on, and go back into action. But in the end everything went smoothly and that was the aim.”
“Since we had gone on a well organized and planned mission, there was no problem hitting the target in an accurate way,” Lt.-Col. A. explained. “The mission itself is not complicated, but the challenge is not to make a mistake in the delicate area in which we operated, close to an inhabited area and on the seam line between Israel and Egypt.”