attack helicopter
attack helicopterFlash 90

When the Hamas invasion of Israel began on Simchat Torah morning, operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and pilots of “Yanshuf” helicopters from the Palmachim base realized already in the first moments of the Hamas attack on “Otef Aza” that this was an event of a completely different magnitude.

During the first hours of the attack, they operated and fired over 250 missiles, most of them within Israeli territory, in scenarios they had not prepared or practiced for. Some of them saw their communities being taken over while their families were not responding to their messages.

Brigadier General Omri Dor, commander of the Palmachim base, shared these moments in an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

"It started as a hard and painful surprise; we were not prepared for the first few hours. It was something different and it took us some time to understand that this was a huge event. So far we have flown thousands of soldiers to the battlefield in helicopters, and our people with the forces on the ground dealt it as much as they could in heroic rescues. Senior commanders from the ground forces, which I have known for years and independently joined the battle to assist, simply called me on from the battlefield and asked for help, directed me where to attack. I felt like this was coming full circle. In other cases pilots spoke from the cockpit on the phone with officers on the ground requesting air support and sometimes by sending locations on WhatsApp to the pilots," said Dor.

"The situation was chaotic," he added. "Pilots who are debating whether to rescue an injured head security officer who is calling for help or at the same time to land a special force in a kibbutz raided by Hamas terrorists. We had zero intelligence, but I went through our people during those hours, I patted them on the back because this was also a mental event and I gave them permission and confidence to also target terrorists who began running back to Gaza. We attacked until our ammunition ran out and then more vehicles were sent south. Some of the operators asked me if 'is this real? Is this really it?'. I immediately supported them and they understood the magnitude of the task and how to behave."

According to Dor, the mobilization of the reservists was above and beyond any expectation. "Everyone, including everyone, arrived without hesitation and without thinking twice. Those whose ability was compromised did a few hours training and with my approval started working on landing over 250 missiles from the Zik aircrafts on the terrorists and their vans. We fired non-stop from the air, watching dozens of terrorists on the screen is not easy to take in."