JERUSALEM, Israel – A Syrian official said his country will respond "at the appropriate time," after Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet over Israeli airspace Tuesday.
Syrian Sukhoi Fighter Jet, Photo, AP
Air raid sirens sounded in northern Israel for a second straight day, and Israeli forces on the Golan Heights remain on high alert as the war inside Syria rages.
Northern Border, Photo, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made sure that Russian President Vladimir Putin knows where Israel's red lines are in Syria. And one of them is the Golan Heights, where Syrian jets are moving way too close for Israel's comfort.
Israeli Prime Minister with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Photo, AP
"Our air defense systems identified a Syrian Air Force jet that took off from the T-4 Syrian Air Force Base and penetrated Israeli airspace. This is a gross violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces agreement with Syria. I have reiterated and made clear that we will not accept any such violation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Israel is concerned about Iranian-backed forces in Syria. Netanyahu wants Russia to keep both Syria and Iran, two clear enemies of Israel, far away from the Golan border. Russia sent its top general along with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Jerusalem for this week for still more negotiations.
The Syrian pilot of the Sukhoi jet was reported killed in Tuesday's incident, a casualty of Syria's move to oust rebel Sunnis from the Syrian side of the Golan.
Golan Heights, Photo, AP
All this week, Israelis have been shaken by warning sirens, from the northern border with Syria to the south near Gaza. Now the government may be ready to spend billions of dollars to bolster the country's air and missile defense system.
The Syrian jet pilot may have strayed into Israeli territory by accident, but Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon explained why Israel can't take any chances.
Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon Addresses Security Council, Photo, AP
"When we see a [jet] fighter crossing the border and we try to contact a few times and we get no response, the only thing we can do is to protect our civilians. We cannot wait to see what are the real intentions of this fighter. That's what any other country would do," Danon said.
"We will not allow anyone to breach our sovereignty. We will not allow the Iranians to build their bases next to our borders in the Golan Heights," he said.
Both Israel and Syria say they're not in a hurry for war. But if Syrian President Bashar Assad doesn't heed Israel's many warnings to stay away from the border, the situation could escalate quickly.