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The First IAF Attack Release date 12.06.2018
70 years have passed since the first IAF attack, which occurred at the "Ad HaLom" bridge. Four "Messerschmitt" aircraft managed to hold back hundreds of Egyptian vehicles making their way to Tel Aviv
Nuphar Blitt & Adi Leshem

May 29th 1948, the War of Independence. Arabian militaries are making their way into Israel's territory. A watchtower in Nitzanim reports an Egyptian convoy made up of 1,300 vehicles en route to Tel Aviv. Around four in the afternoon, IAF Commander Lt. Col. (Res') Yisrael Amir Z"L, his deputy Lt. Gen. (Res') Aharon Remez Z"L and Lt. Col. (Res') Nachum Sarig Z"L, commander of the Palmach's "Negev" Division, arrive at the Ekron military base and decide to utilize fighter aircraft in the effort against the Egyptian convoy, which had already reached Ashdod.

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

Four "Messerschmitt" aircraft recently imported from Czechoslovakia took off at 7:45PM from Ekron AFB, later known as Tel-Nof, with the goal of attacking the Egyptian convoy. Even though the aircraft were hastily constructed and did not go through all of their necessary basic examinations, they took off, flown by four pilots – Capt. Lou Lenart Z"L, Lt. Col. (Res') Modi Alon Z"L, Maj. Gen. (Res') Ezer Weizmann Z"L and Lt. (Res') Eddie Cohen Z"L.

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

The aircraft flew in formation over Ashdod, dropping bombs and firing at the Egyptian cannons while under fire. The Israeli attack caused the Egyptians to halt their progression into Israel's territory. Three of the aircraft landed safely in Ekron, while Eddie Cohen Z"L's aircraft crashed.

These aircraft were operated bravely and were responsible for the IAF's first attack sortie, performed at the "Ad HaLom" bridge. The attack marked the beginning of the IAF's activity and its attempts to attain aerial superiority in Israel.

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion with Lt. Col. (Res') Modi Alon

Baptism of Fire
"Today, 70 years ago, the IAF had its baptism of fire. Since then, our ability to defend itself has improved significantly", said Brig. Gen. Peleg Niego, Commander of Tel-Nof AFB, at a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the historic event. Also present at the event were Lt. Col. (Res') Alex Ziloni, the AFB's first commander, and Col. (Res') Shmuel Sheffer, commander of the AFB during the Six Day War.

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

Avi Moshe Segal, curator of the IAF Museum, said: "It was the first IAF attack after the establishment of the state of Israel. The British garages from World War II are being utilized by the Aerial Maintenance Unit in Tel-Nof AFB to this day. Back then, Maj. Gen. Benny Peled Z"L, Commander of the IAF during the Yom Kippur War, was a young mechanic at the squadron. He helped prepare the aircraft for the attack, and after the sortie he asked to join the Flight Course, from which he graduated with excellence."

"Many years later, I had the chance to meet Captain Lou Lenart Z"L, the leader of the attack, who later became a film producer in Hollywood", elaborated Moshe Segal. "I interviewed him and we filmed the place where the aircraft took off for the sortie. He took the responsibility of memorializing the operation, which is incredibly significant for the state of Israel".

Photography: Alexandra Aksyutich

A Bridge to the Present
The day of the attack on the “Ad HaLom” bridge is also the day of the establishment of the first IAF fighter jet squadron - the 101st (“First Fighter”) Squadron, which operates “Barak” (F-16C) aircraft. During the ceremony, the squadron’s aircraft arrived to Tel-Nof AFB and performed a flyby reenacting the attack. “It was important for us to pass the message on to the younger generation serving in the airbase”, stated Maj. (Res’) T’, who organized the event. “We wanted them to understand the meaning of what happened here before. Now it's their turn to be a part of the IAF”.

A painting by Danny Shalom reenacting the famous operation

“Although the IAF's operational capabilities continue to evolve, we - the people who stand behind these great machines - will always follow in the footsteps of the people who were part of that operation”, emphasized Brig. Gen. Niego. “I wish us all to continue taking the IAF above and beyond ‘Ad HaLom’. To my brothers in arms – Lou, Modi, Ezer and Eddie – and to every IAF service member who stood behind you and took part in the IAF’s first operational sortie – I salute you and your legacy. It is our legacy as well”.