- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Israel’s military said Tuesday that they’ve shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had “infiltrated into Israeli airspace” — the first time in 25 or so years for Syria to breach the boundary in that fashion.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Israel’s Patriot air-defense system intercepted the Russian-made Sukhoi warplane in midflight, as it streaked over the Golan Heights midmorning, The New York Times reported. The pilots of the Su-24 jet seemed to have ejected to safety on Syrian lands, Brig. Gen. Ram Shmueli said, in the newspaper.

“We cannot tolerate any penetration of the Israeli airspace, so we had to shut him down even though we understand that his intention was not to attack us,” Gen. Shmueli said in a conference call with reporters, The New York Times said. “We are not involved in the war in Syria, and we don’t have any intention to be involved. We have to keep our borders safe on one side, but we have to make sure we are not part of this way.”

The general said the airplane had flown a good half mile into Israeli territory before it was shot down and that most of the debris fell into the sea.

Amos Harel, who writes for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. said the Jewish nation hadn’t intercepted a Syrian aircraft flown by a pilot since 1989. But Gen. Shmueli, a former intelligence head in the Air Force who now serves in the reserves, said it was actually 1985, The New York Times reported.

Israel and Syria are technically still at war, though the two nations forged an armistice line in 1973 and its been largely quiet — at least, until recent months, when Syria’s civil war butted up against it.

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