The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) made no prior announcement of the F-15 drills, which left residents in Tel Aviv struggling for an explanation.
Police said in a statement that "many calls were received from worried citizens about noise from a squadron of planes in the Tel Aviv area." It cautioned: "We would like to make clear they were training for the Independence Day aerial display. There's no emergency."
The F-15s maneuvered through the sky, practicing drastic turns, climbs and dives in "what appeared to be a mock dogfight," according to the Jerusalem Post. The roar of the F-15 engines was audible in the streets.
The false alarm comes at a moment when Israel is engaged in conflict on two fronts: with Syria — in its Golan Heights, which Israel occupies with Islamist proxies — as well as Israel's strike last week on the Syrian T-4 airbase in the liberated Homs province — and Israel's violent response to protests in Gaza by Israel's border fence.
This is not the IDF's first oversight to occur at a time when war could break out at any moment — or already has. US Army Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus was accidentally shot to death by Israeli friendly fire while returning to base at night during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israeli Air Force jets and Navy motor torpedo boats accidentally attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 members of the US military.
During the 2008-09 Gaza War, also called Operation Cast Lead, three IDF soldiers were killed and 24 were wounded when an Israeli tank fired a live round at an abandoned building in which other IDF soldiers were taking cover.