An Israeli Air Force pilot was temporarily suspended after firing an air-to-air missile at what turned out to be a “false target” on the Israeli-Syrian border late last month, Israel’s Channel 12 has reported.
The incident, which reportedly took place on June 28, occurred after the IAF scrambled a jet to respond to a ‘suspicious airborne target’ approaching Israeli airspace over the occupied Golan Heights which turned out to be a phantom.
According to Israeli media, the missile flew into Syrian territory and exploded.
The jet’s pilot was reportedly suspended over the ‘serious operational error’, but has since been reinstated.
Channel 12 did not provide any other details about the incident, and it’s not clear whether there were any casualties on the Syrian side.
Israel has admitted to carrying out air attacks against Syria “hundreds of times” in recent years, saying the strikes are aimed at preventing Iran from its alleged plans to establish a foothold in Syria from which to carry out aggression against Tel Aviv. Damascus has vocally condemned Israel’s attacks, calling them a blatant violation of international law, and saying that Iran’s presence in Syria is limited to helping the country in its fight against radical Islamist terrorists such as Daesh (ISIS)* and al-Qaeda*. The latest Israeli Air Force attack against Syria took place on 30 June, with multiple missiles fired into Damascus and Homs province from Lebanese airspace, killing 16 Syrians.
Israel took control of part of Syria’s Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War, and formally annexed the territory in 1981. Shortly after, the United Nations declared Tel Aviv’s action “null and void and without international legal effect”. In March, however, US President Donald Trump officially recognised the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, prompting international criticism. In April, the Syrian government warned that it has the legal right to return the Golan Heights ‘by any means possible’, saying that “the only language which Israel understands is the language of force”.
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.