Israel to react ‘forcefully’ to any threat after Syria jet downed
Tue 23 Sep 2014 at 12:09
NNA – Israel will respond “forcefully” to attempts to threaten its security, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned on Tuesday after a Syrian warplane was shot down over the Golan Heights.
“We will not allow anyone, whether it is a state actor or a terror organisation, to threaten our security and breach our sovereignty,” he said in a statement.
“We will respond forcefully against any such attempt, whether it is an error or intentional.”
It was the most serious incident to take place on the strategic plateau since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
“A warplane that penetrated Israeli territory was successfully shot down a short while ago by the air defense systems along the Syrian border,” a military statement said, without giving further details.
Army radio said it was apparently a MiG-21 fighter jet which was shot down by a surface-to-air Patriot missile, with the wreckage landing on the Syrian-controlled side of the plateau.
The downing came just three weeks after Israel shot down a drone over the Golan as heavy fighting raged on the Syrian side, most of which has been seized by rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
The Assad regime has been hitting back with frequent air strikes in a bid to retake control of the plateau. Some have been close to Israeli positions.
Since the uprising erupted more than three years ago, the plateau has been tense, with a growing number of rockets and mortar rounds hitting the Israeli side, most of them stray, prompting occasional retaliatory fire.
But there have been several incidents of intentional fire, one of which killed an Israeli teenager in June.
Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan during the Six-Day War of 1967, then annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Some 510 square kilometers of the Golan remain on the Syrian side of the ceasefire line, with UN forces overseeing a buffer zone stretching some 70 kilometers (45 miles) from Lebanon in the north to Jordan in the south.–AFP