On August 21st, soldiers from Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) opened fire on an Israeli crop-dusting airplane, mistaking it for an enemy aircraft encroaching the airspace above the Golan Heights.
The accident occurred in the central Golan Heights, near the Syrian border. 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.
“IDF troops operating on the Golan Heights spotted a plane that they suspected of being an enemy aircraft that infiltrated from Syrian territory and represented a real threat, and therefore they opened fire at it. Once they realized it was a civilian Israeli aircraft, they stopped shooting,” the military said in a statement.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 21, 2019
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, the Ynet news site reported.
He quickly landed back in the Mahanaim airfield near Rosh Pina, thinking the shot had been fired from Syria, according to the outlet.
A quick investigation determined that they had in fact been fired by soldiers from the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade.
“As a part of defending the area against infiltrating aircraft, troops are expected to identify and monitor suspicious craft. But this was a serious incident that is being investigated. Lessons will be learned,” the army said.
Guess they skipped the identifying part, as well as the monitoring one. They simply jumped straight to shooting.
It is good that Israel attempts to predominantly use unmanned vehicles, since examples such as these are commonplace.