'No need to shoot': Israel reveals Russian warplane ‘crossed’ into its control zone from Syria

Israeli soldiers walk next to armoured personnel carriers (APC) in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria © Baz Ratner
A Russian warplane recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told local media. The brief intrusion was resolved quietly, with Yaalon noting “we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs."

"There was a slight intrusion a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep by a Russian plane from Syria into our airspace, but it was immediately resolved and the Russian plane returned towards Syria," Yaalon told Army Radio.

READ MORE: Turkey stopped violating Greek airspace after Russian Su-24 downing - Athens source

"It was apparently an error by the pilot who was flying near the Golan," he said without elaborating when the incident had occurred.

Earlier, General Amos Gilad, Yaalon’s close aide, said such incidents occur occasionally. To prevent misunderstandings, Israel and Russia have arranged a “hotline", information sharing and joint air exercises.

"Russian planes do not intend to attack us, which is why we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs," Yaalon also said.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not yet commented on the statements.

On Monday, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber in a rebel-held area in Syria, not far from the Turkish border. The 45-year-old pilot, Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Peshkov, was shot dead by Turkmen militia while parachuting to the ground.

Turkey maintains the Russian bomber had breached their airspace and ignored numerous warnings.

However, the surviving pilot, navigator Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, says at no point did Turkish aircraft attempt to contact them prior to the attack.

Russia has called the incident “a stab in the back,” with President Putin ordering sanctions be imposed against Turkey.