An Israeli civilian aircraft which flew past Central Golan Heights on Wednesday August 21, got shot at by troops mistaking it for an infiltrating aircraft from Syria.
Though the pilot was not hurt, the Israel Defense Forces in its statement described it as a “serious incident”. The pilot was reportedly “a metre-and-a-half away from disaster” at the time of the incident.
The IDF took to Twitter to make a short statement about the incident. It read (translated):
An IDF force operating on the Golan Heights identified aircraft suspected of being a hostile aircraft that infiltrated Syria’s surface and posed a real threat, so opened fire on it. After realizing that it was an Israeli civilian aircraft, he stopped the shooting… As part of an aircraft penetration protection procedure, the force in the field is expected to identify and watch over suspicious vessels. This is a serious incident under investigation and its lessons will be learned.
Ynet reported that the pilot told friends after the incident that he’d felt something strike the wing of his aircraft, but initially believed it was a bird until he noticed that fuel was leaking out of the plane.
Crop-dusting flights are a relatively common occurrence in the largely agricultural area, which has also seen several cases of unmanned aerial vehicles from Syria entering the airspace above. Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war