Israel showed Russia proof Syria to blame for downed plane — Israeli military

Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit a target in the area. (File photo / Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2018
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Israel showed Russia proof Syria to blame for downed plane — Israeli military

  • Israel provided Moscow with proof it was not responsible for the downing of a Russian plane in Syria
  • Fifteen Russian crew were killed when the IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia

JERUSALEM: Israel has provided Moscow with proof it bore no responsibility for bringing down a Russian plane in Syria, an Israeli military official said on Friday.
Fifteen Russian crew were killed when an IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia in northern Syria on Monday. Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit a target in the area.
Initially the incident appeared likely to cause friction between Israel and Russia, with the Defense Ministry in Moscow accusing Israel of indirectly causing it. But President Vladimir Putin later called it “a chain of tragic, chance events.”
An Israeli delegation led by its air force chief this week presented Moscow with its findings on the incident, “including recordings of the conversations between the Israeli air force and the Russian air force component in Syria,” said the Israeli official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
“We proved how the Syrian reckless anti-air fire was the direct cause of hitting the Russian aircraft. They fired quite recklessly and irresponsibly and unprofessionally into the air long after our planes were no longer there,” the official said.
More than 20 Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were fired during the incident, the official said.
“Our Russian counterparts had a few questions, those questions were answered,” the official said. “Our impression is that the discussions were professional and that the information was well accepted.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry was initially critical of Israel, saying it had only given Moscow one minute’s warning before its jets attacked, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in cross-fire.
But the Israeli official said: “We definitely gave a warning, a time much longer than one minute. We acted in accordance with the standard operating procedures that are in place with the Russian military.”
Any dispute between Israel and Russia could lessen Israel’s ability to carry out air strikes inside Syria against what it regards as the greatest threat to Israel’s security from the country’s civil war — build-ups of Iranian forces or those of Iran’s ally, Hezbollah.
Since intervening in Syria in 2015, Russia has usually turned a blind eye to Israeli attacks. Israel has launched about 200 such raids in the last two years, Israeli officials say.
The Israeli official said the meeting in Moscow was an opportunity to improve the mechanism the countries have been using to avoid unintended confrontations.
“But our freedom of movement is paramount ... The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) will continue to implement our strategic interests,” the official said.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.