Pilot, navigator missing after Air Force's most advanced plane crashes during routine training flight. No problems were reported before tragedy occurred. IDF, police rescue units search area
An Israeli Air Force two-seater F-16I airplane crashed late Wednesday evening during training in the south of Israel, near Mitzpe Ramon. The pilot and navigator have been described as missing, and many IDF troops were involved in searching for them. Pieces of the aircraft have been located.
Four F-16I aircraft, the air force's newest plane, took part in routine training over the Ramon Crater in good weather. At some point, one of the planes suddenly fell to the ground from a height of 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), apparently failing to report any problem before the disaster. Another aircraft observed the plunge but apparently did not realize it would hit the ground.
It appears that human error was the cause of the accident, perhaps loss of orientation, but all other planes of this type were grounded immediately. Within a few days it should be possible to rule out technical fault as the cause of the disaster.
The aircraft took off at about 8 pm for a training exercise. The IDF lit up the area using flares in efforts to locate the pilots. Police rescue units were also called.
Dozens of residents of the area took to the streets to observe the search efforts. To the west of Mitzpe Ramon, helicopters could be seen circling over the crater. "I saw a mushroom cloud of smoke and then after a few minutes lots of flares," a resident told Ynet. "The helicopters are circling above the site of the crash all the time."
Just four months ago six IDF soldiers died in a helicopter crash in Romania. The aircraft crashed into a mountain the center of the country during joint training with Romanian forces. Four pilots and two mechanics died in the disaster, as well as a Romanian observer.
Just over a year ago, Assaf Ramon died in a training accident south of the Mount Hebron. Ramon was the son of the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. The F-16 Assaf Ramon was flying crashed during a routine high-altitude training flight. The aircraft disappeared from radar control screens and radio contact with the pilot was lost. The scope of the tragedy was soon apparent as well as the double tragedy of Rona Ramon.
The F-16I (the "I" stands for Israel) is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and these aircraft entered service in Israel six years ago. The aircraft is able to carry air-to-air heat-seeking missiles manufactured by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. as well as US-made radar-guided missiles.
The aircraft also carries other advanced systems developed specially to meet Israel's needs, as well as enlarged fuel tanks which increase its flying range by 50% without harming its other capabilities.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -