EILAT, Israel, September 25 (AP) - Police and army anti-terrorist forces leaped into action Tuesday when an ultra-light plane began buzzing houses in Eilat, a resort at Israel's southern tip, next to Jordan. It looked to them like a terror attack.
It turned out the two fliers were just playing chicken, Jewish style.
Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, when Jews atone for their sins, begins Wednesday at sundown. As part of the ritual, some Jews symbolically cast out their sins in a ceremony that includes swinging a live chicken over their heads.
Worried that his fellow Eilatis might not carry out the ceremony, Rabbi Shimon Eizenbach decided to do it for everyone.
He went to his friend, Shimon "Kushi" Rimon, a well-known local character, and suggested carrying two chickens over the city in Rimon's ultra-light plane.
They chose sunrise because there is no other air traffic around Eilat at that hour, and took off, planning to make three circles around the city as the rabbi chanted the ''Kapparot'' blessing that goes with the ritual.
Determined to complete their mission and give the full religious benefit to their people, the two ignored army searchlights and police loudspeaker calls to them to land and identify themselves.
After the plane landed, Eizenbach emerged with the two chickens under his arms. Police and soldiers, who had gone on alert and closed Eilat air space as a precaution, were not amused. However, they did not detain the two.