Pilots give unprecedented briefing

"I only found out from the papers on the morning after that we had attacked...Nasrallah."

iaf pilot 298 courtesy (photo credit: Courtesy )
iaf pilot 298 courtesy
(photo credit: Courtesy )
"I only found out from the papers on the morning after that we had attacked the bunker of Hassan Nasrallah," said Capt. Y, an F-16 pilot who had participated in the Wednesday night raid against a bunker sheltering Hizbullah's leadership in the Beirut suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh, "but it was clear that if we were dropping 23 tons of bombs on the target it was very important." According to the 24-year-old, pilots receive basic information on their targets before each mission, "but it's better that we don't know all these details so it won't cloud the clarity of the execution." Y was speaking after a special briefing given mainly to members of the foreign media at the IAF's Ramat David base in the lower Galilee. First Squadron, based at Ramat David, has flown more than 150 missions over the last eight days against Hizbullah targets. Flight time from the base to Beirut is under 10 minutes. Unaware at the time that Nasrallah had survived the bombing, Y said: "It's not relevant whether he lives or dies. I just hope that... it will have the desired effect of ending the bombardments of our cities." The IDF's agreement to allow a large group of reporters, photographers and TV crews from foreign media organizations into an IAF base, and to meet air crews at the height of combat activity, is unprecedented. Capt. Eric Snyder of the IDF Spokesman's Office said that it was done "because it's important to humanize our pilots in the face of the way the foreign media is covering the events." The pilots of First Squadron said that all operations were planned with a concern for sparing civilian lives. Maj. E, a reservist who is the CFO of an avionics company in his civilian life, explained that "each pilot has the permission to abort a mission if he feels that there is a danger to too many civilians. I personally took part in a mission to bomb a bridge, but when we were over the target I saw that there was too much traffic of people leaving Beirut on it, so I decided to abort. We returned at 3 a.m. to finish the job."