May 26, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled when an Israeli parachutist carried away by the wind accidentally drifted toward Israel's top secret nuclear research centre near the southern town of Dimona in the Negev desert late Monday afternoon.
IDFAF F-16D block 40 #666 is banking to the left with landing gear down and airbrakes opened. [Photo by Xnir
Police forces rushed to the area as the parachutist headed involuntarily toward the nuclear installation.
The parachutist had entered the no-fly security zone surrounding the facility, she said.
He later managed to land safely near the nearby town of Yerucham, where he was taken in for questioning but released shortly afterwards.
With French assistance, Israel
built the nuclear weapons facility at Dimona. The site has a plutonium/tritium production reactor, an underground chemical separation plant, and nuclear component fabrication facilities.
Although Israel has never admitted it, international experts say the country uses the plant, which opened in the early 1960s, for the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.