Israel Downs Syrian Fighter Jet in Its Airspace
First such interception since 1980s: reports
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 23, 2014 8:31 AM CDT
In this photo taken on Sept. 16, 2014, a Druze man looks through binoculars toward the fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan as seen from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

(Newser) – Israel has shot down a Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace, Haaretz reports. The pilots appear to have parachuted to safety in the incident, which saw a Patriot missile hit the Sukhoi-24 jet over Golan Heights. It was the first time since the 1980s that Israel has shot down a manned aircraft from Syria, reports say, though the countries remain officially at war, the New York Times notes. "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," an Israeli general told the media, as the Times reports. Syria called the move an act of aggression, Haaretz notes.

The jet flew some 900 yards into Israel; after 80 seconds, Israel opted to shoot, Haaretz reports. By the time the missile hit the plane, it had turned around. Israel didn't believe it was under attack, but military policy calls for the downing of planes entering Israeli airspace. "I believe it's an isolated event; I don't see any escalation," says Israel's Brig. Gen. Ram Shmueli. "I believe the Syrians know we don't have any intention to be part of this war. They know our policy ahead of time because we say it clearly, loudly, and publicly."