SCOOP: Israel Shoots Down Syrian Plane In Syrian Territory
Israel significantly escalated its confrontation with Bashar al-Assad by shooting down a Syrian air force jet that had strayed 1/2 mile into Israeli-occupied Golan. Al Jazeera reports the wreckage landed in Syrian territory. My Israeli source confirmed my suspicion (based on evidence presented below) that while the missile was fired when the plane was over Israeli-occupied Golan, it struck the plane over Syrian territory.
Israel could see the plane was attacking rebel positions and not intending hostile action against Israel. I asked my source why Israel didn’t escort the plane back into Syrian airspace and instead adopted the hair trigger approach. He responded that Israel feels it has no reaction time and shoots down anything that overflies its zone.
There will be those who argue that Israel made an error that was excusable considering the short distances from the armistice line to Israeli population centers. But that’s why you have complex computer systems controlling weapons and calibrating distances and borders. If the Israeli officer who fired the rocket didn’t know he’d be shooting down a Syrian plane over Syrian territory, he was incompetent.
This is an egregious violation of Syrian sovereignty; though Israel routinely tramples over the sovereignty of any country standing in its way, never seeming to pay a price. It should also be noted that a U.S.-built Patriot missile shot the Syrian plane down. That’s what friends are for.
Given the Israeli military’s shoot-first, ask questions never approach to these matters, it’s little surprise such an incident occurred. In the boiling cauldron that is current Middle East politics, such mistakes could easily trigger war. Major wars throughout history have been provoked by less. Anyone who doubts Israel could easily light such a match and cause a conflagration that envelops other frontline states is burying their head in the sand. By the way, the last time Israel shot down a Syrian plane was in 1985. Turkey also shot down a Syrian fighter jet. But it did so over or near the Mediterranean and the plane was more than likely in Turkish territory.
It’s also important to note that even if the plane was in Israel-held territory, no one in the world recognizes this territory as Israeli. The world considers the territory conquered and occupied. It is legally Syrian. So Haaretz’s headline reporting the plane was shot down over “Israeli territory” is a total misnomer.
31 thoughts on “SCOOP: Israel Shoots Down Syrian Plane In Syrian Territory – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I wonder if you’re aware of the egregious errors in your ‘scoop’.
It was Syria that downed a Turkish plane over the Mediterranean.
Israel is at a state of war with Syria since ’48. As such it did bhutto violate any sovereignty, it responded to a violation of its own sovereignty.
Planes that get shot down do not fall vertically where they are struck. Israel said the plane was struck when heading back into Syria; inertia carries the struck plane further in the direction of motion; plane falls in Syria.
Zero ‘scoop’ here.
I’m afraid the errors are in your comment rather than my post. Israel & Syria are no in “a state of war.” When there is an armistice there is no longer a state of war, though there is no permanent agreement on borders either. No one accepts Israeli control of the Golan and Israel has no sovereignty there other than its own rejected claim.
I repeat my source, based on information conveyed to him by well informed military sources says the plane was hit in Syrian controlled territory. So unless you have credible proof to discount this, the conversation with you is over.
It may have been shot over syrian territory, but that territory was occupied, so maybe iot was OK.
BUT — near Israeli population centers? Does that mean Israeli citizen settlers living in Golan? where they are present illegally? THAT is the error of the Israeli viewpoint.
It could reach zefat or Tiberius in a few seconds, both large (by Israeli standards) population centers squarely in pre-67 Israel.
Many countries have more or less important cities near their borders. If they would all use that as a reason to shoot down flight border patrols by their neighbours the world would have even more strife than it already has.
And now we are on this topic: Israel uses its small size often as a reason for its territorial ambitions. The “Auschwitz” borders of 1967 are allegedly indefensible but having the Jordan as border would change all that. I have never understood why.
And that I don’t understand it is neither here nor there but the prominent Dutch-Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld shares my incomprehension (see his article “Israel doesn’t need the West Bank to be secure” in the Jewish Daily Forward of 15th December 2010 :
The Dutch relied until 1940 on the defensive line along their big rivers until the German invasion taught them otherwise.
This may be the funniest comment I’ve read on this site to date.
1. The Jordan “river” is roughly 10 meters wide.
2. The Golan side is a plateau of over 1000 meters above sea level. The Galilee side is hills ranging in the few hundred meters elevation.
3. “Until 1940”, gee I wonder what happened then to the marvellous riverside defense tactic.
Any more suggestions, General?
If you had taken the trouble to read Van Creveld’s article you wouldn’t come up with this prep school geography.
I’ve read it the day it was published. All it is is wishful thinking, not a single sentence addressing the actual issues that will arise once Judea and Samaria become Hamas/ISIS-controlled.
Also, Golan Heights =/= Judea and Samaria.
@ Yuval: Another violation of comment rules. You may not state your own opinion as fact especially when it contravenes reality. Whether you believe the Golan Heights have the same status as the West Bank (they don’t btw) is immaterial. Since you can’t support the claim with credible evidence. So I have no interest in hearing such opinions. Arguments are based on facts & evidence. Not opinion. If you can’t do this, again you know where that leads…
I would say your reading comprehension needs improvement.
1. Arie’s comment expressed a reservation with regard to the notion that the Jordan (river) would somehow extricate Israel from its “Auschwitz” borders. You say that the Jordan river is 10 meters wide (it is actually more). Is there any disagreement here?
2. What does the altitude comparison between the Golan plateau and the Galilee hills have to do with whether or not Israel needs the West Bank for its security?
3. In a land war with the Wehrmacht, the Dutch army was essentially doomed. Everyone else in Europe at the time was doomed as well (Britain had the advantage of the Channel separating it from continental Europe). The Jewish population of the mandatory Palestine would be doomed if Rommel’s expeditionary corps made its way eastward past Sinai. What’s your point?
@ Yuval: Contrary to what you believe, the comment threads aren’t your personal snark fest. If you can’t keep the snark under control, you may be moderated. Read & respect the comment rules.
The Golan has been put under Israeli sovereignty in 1981 and all its inhabitants offered Israeli citizenship. It’s not under any sort of military rule and the sovereign is the State of Israel and its branches of government.
Richard, as usual, is throwing sand in his readership’s eyes so they think it’s a West Bank-style occupation even though it’s nothing of the sort. It’s a territory acquired during a defensive war and lawfully annexed, pending only an official treaty between the parties recognized by the international community. Of course the Syrians have no interest in ceding the land as long as the International bodies are controlled by Muslim nations and states dependent on Arab oil.
Richard’s motives in keeping just the uncomfortable bits fuzzy are obvious here – eliciting asinine reactions such as yours which only contribute to the demonization of Israel.
Whether a war is offensive or defensive doesn’t make any difference in international law. A territory cannot be lawfully acquired by war period. Read the preamble of SC Resolution 242 (incidentally it is highly debatable whether the 1967 war can be called “defensive”- it was Israel that dealt the first blow in a Pearl Harbor style of attack on the Egyptian airforce – but the international community did not refer to the event as having happened on “a date that will live in infamy” – lucky you)
The Scottish scholar of international law John McHugo provides a very clear interpretation of SC Res.242 in the International and Comparative Law Quarterly of 2002, Vol.51.4. At the beginning of his article he first clears up a misunderstanding that has bedevilled the interpretation of 242, namely that it makes a difference whether the Six Day War was a war of aggression on the side of Israel or, rather, waged in self-defence. McHugo states that this question is irrelevant:
“It used to be permissible for a state to acquire sovereignty over territory by right of conquest on the termination of a state of war. The right was abolished when the League of Nations was established in the aftermath of the First World War. The abolition of conquest extends to a prohibition of the acquisition of any territory by a state in actions of self defence.”
And this was also the view adopted by Robbie Jennings, then Whewell Professor of International Law at the university of Cambridge and subsequently judge and President of the International Court of Justice in his 1963 monograph “The acquisition of territory in international law”. Territory acquired by the use of force cannot be annexed, regardless of whether the use of force was defensive or offensive. Nor can annexation be justified under the doctrine of self-defence itself, as only proportionate measures taken to meet the immediate threat are lawful. Annexation to counter against some future threat do not fall within this category.
See, it’s cretins like you willfully ignoring the blockade Nasser imposed on the Tiran straights and sending troops into Sinai in spite of the 1957 agreements, which were 100% legitimate casus belli and declared as such by Israel the day they started, 3 weeks before the war, that give anti-Zionists such a bad reputation. The cherry-picking you’re so meticulously pursuing, as if world history starts and stops at your convenience, is mesmerizing.
If any reputation has gone down over the last fifty years or so, though perhaps not in your bailiwick, it is that of people thinking like you.
Among those who don’t take their history from hasbara sources there is virtual consensus that Nasser didn’t want a war and that the two divisions he had moved to the border were at any case quite insufficient to attack and overcome Israel.
About the blockade of the Strait of Tiran: President Johnson was in the process of getting together a naval squadron (for which Holland and Australia volunteered) to make that undone. He had announced that if Israel started hostilities it couldn’t count on American assistance as did indeed President de Gaulle (Israel had among many other things its Mirages from France). De Gaulle stuck to it, Johnson didn’t (and got by way of thanks the Israeli attack on an American signals ship leading to 34 fatalities and many more wounded).
As to who was creating a casus belli, the great majority of the pre-war provocations on the Syrian and Jordanian borders came from Israel as a Dutch UN observer at the time, Jan Mühren (and indeed Dayan himself) has testified.
Please elaborate about this naval squadron, cite a source and try and guess how effective an action it would have been: like Britain and France holding up their end of the bargain in 1956? Like the US enforcing the ban on AA missiles near the Suez canal after 1970? Like the 1995 pledge to maintain the Ukraine’s territorial integrity these days? Like Rabin’s promise from 1993 that if 40,000 rifles handed to the PLO started shooting at Israelis that we’d just recall them, in 2000?
@ Yuval: A word of warning to Yuval & others–when he wanders far off the reservation as he has here, please do not humor him by leading yourself and others on a similar journey. We’re not refighting the 1967 War here. I warn you, Yuval, future off topic comments will be deleted. Your next off topic comment will lead to moderation.
@ Yuval: Whoa buster. Again, you go read the comment rules right now before you type another keystroke into your keyboard. If you use that language again here one more time you’re moderated.
Israel had no causus belli to begin the 6 Day War. It planned to launch a war and knew it needed to launch a pre-emptive attack to diable the Egyptian air force. This was a war of aggression as every other Israeli war has been except 1973.
Again, the comment rules make very clear that the comment threads are not the place to refight the battles of Zionist history. If that’s what you need, you’ll have to go elsewhere for that. Keep your comments very carefully on topic. Go off topic and you’re again violating rules that are there for a very good reason.
@Yuval: It appears our Israeli friends need a bit of tutoring in the ways of the parts of the world not under their direct control (that is, everything outside its little corner of the Mideast). Israel’s annexation of the Golan is illegal & unrecognized. Israel does not own the Golan. It is conquered & disputed territory. It has no territorial sovereignty there aside from its own unaccepted claims.
Even Israel accepts this tacitly because 2 prime ministers have come very close to returning the Golan to its rightful Syrian owners & any future peace agreement will do that.
Yuval knows this as well whether he accepts it or not.
Further, it doesn’t matter how a conquering nation attains territory whether its a defensive, offensive, or otherwise war. Conquered territory is just that and under international law no state may unilaterally declare it owns such land. Israel can do or say whatever it wishes but wishing won’t make it so in the eyes of the rest of the world. And contrary to the Israeli belief system, what the rest of the world says & believes does matter.
And you watch your characterizations of the contributions of other commenters. That violates the comment rules.
I see you have commented serially & multiple times today. Do not monopolize the comment threads. Please restrain your number of comments to no more than 3 per day as the comment rules indicate.
Israel the source of evil, always blame Israel no matters how? why?
Is there something good in Israel?
You tell us.
The cost of Israel to everyone including Jews and Judaism is so enormous now that nothing positive about the country could possibly offset even a small bit of these huge costs. A Jewish State was never worth the high price paid. And the costs keep rising as Zionism clings to its fantasy.
No more Holocausts is a good thing. Right?
“Israel is today the most dangerous place in the world for Jews. Since its establishment, more Jews were hurt in wars and terror attacks that took place in Israel than anywhere else. The war in Gaza took this one step backward – it endangered world Jews as well, as no other war has before it. The Jewish home, the national refuge, not only doesn’t provide refuge, but even threatens Jews everywhere else. When you tote up the results of the war, include that too in the loss column.
A wave of animosity is washing over world public opinion. In contrast to the complacent, blind, smug Israeli public opinion, people abroad saw the pictures in Gaza and were aghast. No conscientious person could have remained unaffected. The shock was translated into hatred toward the state that did all that, and in extreme cases the hatred also awakened anti-Semitism from its lair. Yes, there is anti-Semitism in the world, even in the 21st century, and Israel has fueled it. Israel provided it with abundant excuses for hatred.”
While I see the general sense in equating having to read a Gideon Levy quote with the Holocaust, I think you’re being a little hard on him.
I am sorry to say, but the Levy quote is as self-serving and lopsided as a typical hasbara piece would be.
It looks at a carefully selected piece of the present situation without bothering to widen the perspective or to consider the historical circumstances which gave rise to that situation in the first place.
When Israel was considered “the national refuge” for the Jews — in the period leading to WWII — there were millions of Jews in Europe whose lives were under a close to immediate threat. As it came to pass, a Jewish state was not able to save them because none existed. After the war, which was the greatest massacre in European history (with the Holocaust in the gruel subcategory of the largest intentional massacre of a non-belligerent population). At the time, there were hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe who had literally nowhere to go. Theoretically, they could return to the countries of their citizenship, but the majority populations in those countries were not quite happy about it, with pogroms taking place in 1945-46 in places such as Kiev and Kielce. Moreover, just at that time, Europe was undergoing the greatest ethnic cleansing in its history — the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the East European countries. Nobody could assume that the Jews’ fate in Eastern Europe would be better. In those circumstances, a Jewish national home was desperately needed, and Palestine already had a 600,000 strong Jewish population demanding self-determination. This is what let to the UNGA resolution 181 which mentioned, in one of its provisions, “an area situated in the territory of the Jewish State, including a seaport and hinterland adequate to provide facilities for a substantial immigration.” The newly-created Israel wrought a catastrophe on the Palestinian Arabs (although the regimes of other Arab countries bear their share of responsibility for that). But it did provide the multitudes of homeless Jews with a much-needed refuge.
Fast forward to 2014. Israel, despite the Palestinian terrorism and the mini-wars which it is too much eager to wage against the latter, is basically a safe place for all its citizens (of whom the majority, and the privileged group, are Jews). The intentional homicide rate in Israel is 1.8 per 100,000 population, or 134 occurrences in total (data for 2012). Add to that, in a particularly bad year (e.g., 2006) a more or less equal number of deaths due to terrorism and military conflict. You’ll get to a rate of intentional violent death of about 3.6 per 100,000 population. Not ideal, but the US has an intentional homicide rate of about 4.7 per 100,000 population. So, is Israel unsafe for its citizens (Jews and non-Jews alike)? Less than the US is unsafe for its population, anyway. But those figures do not matter much. I don’t think that any significant number of people in the US walk around in a fear of being murdered, and that’s true of Israel as well. In Europe of 1945 or 1948, in contrast, the situation was very much different.
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories? A problem indeed. But if it has anything to do with the question of whether Israel is safe for Jews, that’s only the circumstance that Israel will continue to be sufficiently safe even if it pulls out tomorrow of all the territories occupied in 1967. Which is part of the reasons why it should get out of those territories (with possible mutually agreed land swaps) as soon as possible.
@ gilad: Read the comment rules. COmments must advance an argument and contain substance. This is a perfect example of a comment that contains neither.
The information about that naval squadron to undo the blockade of the Straits of Tiran comes from Johnson himself (see The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963 – 1969). It will forever be unknown how effective it would have been because Israel jumped the gun. The importance of the blockade to Israel is also still a matter of controversy:
“ … according to Major General Indar Jit Rikhye, military adviser to the United Nations Secretary General, the accusation of a blockade was “questionable,” pointing out that an Israeli-flagged ship had not passed through the straits in two years, and that “The U.A.R. [Egyptian] navy had searched a couple of ships after the establishment of the blockade and thereafter relaxed its implementation.”(Wikipedia)
I have no quarrel with the historical side of your letter but at present Israel cannot have it both ways: sky-high expenditure for the military and very restrictive security measures because allegedly it is so endangered and claiming, at the same time, that it is the only safe place for Jews.