The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it had shot down a drone from Syria that had entered its airspace. A Patriot missile shot down the drone, after it set off air-defence sirens on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the Jordanian border, Reuters reported.
However, the army did not clarify whether the unmanned aerial vehicle was intercepted over the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied during the 1967 war with Syria. The plateau is not recognised internationally as Israeli territory.
A statement by the Israeli Defense Forces said it was unclear whether the drone was on a reconnaissance mission, and added that it may have simply diverted from its route, Haaretz reported. The army said it will “not allow any violation of Israeli airspace and will act against any attempt to hurt our civilians”.
“In recent weeks we are prepared for the possibility of Israeli sovereignty being violated as a result of the fighting in Syria,” Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Ronen Manelis said. “Our intention is not to allow the 1974 agreement to be violated and not to create a risk for the State of Israel.” The 1974 agreement officially ended the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and Syria.
This is the second time in a month that Israel has intercepted a drone flying in from Syria. On June 24, Israel’s military said it launched a Patriot missile at an incoming unmanned aerial vehicle, which turned away unharmed.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported. “We will discuss Syria, we will discuss Iran, we will discuss Israel’s security needs,” Netanyahu told reporters before leaving. “I very much appreciate the direct, unmediated and excellent contact that I have with the Russian president.”
Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but has turned a blind eye to frequent sorties by Israeli aircraft against targets of Iran and the Hezbollah militant group in Syria.