Russian jet violates Israeli airspace: Defense minister

A breakdown in communications led to a Russian jet mistakenly entering Israeli airspace, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Sunday.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Yaalon as telling Israel Radio that the jet had entered Israeli airspace after operating near Syria’s Golan Heights region, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Yaalon added that Israel and Russia had stepped up coordination with a view to avoiding such misunderstandings in the future.

His comments come one week after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that had violated its airspace — an incident that a number of Israeli officials have commented upon.

Amos Gilad, political director of the Israeli Defense Ministry, said Saturday that violations of Israeli airspace by Russian jets — given Russia’s ongoing air campaign in next-door Syria — could not be entirely avoided.

“I’m assuming we won’t down a plane over every infringement,” he said.

Israel is in regular communication with Russia on the latter’s ongoing operations in Syria, where Moscow says it is targeting positions held by the Daesh militant group.

Turkey and other members of the western NATO alliance, however, have accused Russia of targeting armed opposition groups fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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