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Russia Admits Drone Entered Israeli Airspace | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a 2013 meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow (AFP Photo/Alexei Nikolsky)

Tel Aviv – Three weeks after the Russian drone entered the Golan Heights airspace, Moscow admitted to the incident saying that it belonged to the Russian forces stationed in Syria.

A high-ranking Israeli source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the drone had crossed into the Israeli airspace as a result of human error.

The incident was considered the gravest between the Russian and the Israeli armies since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the deployment of the Russian military in Syria in September 2015.

On July 17, a Russian aircraft crossed four kilometers into the airspace under Israeli occupation. Israel fired two Patriot missiles and an air to air missile at the unidentified drone, but the missiles failed to intercept the drone returned to its origin.

Following the incident, a series of discussions were launched between officials at the Russian and Israeli armies as part of their coordination mechanism.

Investigations by the Israeli army revealed that the aircraft was a Russian drone, yet the infiltration was not clear whether it was an error or intentional to gather information or test the Israeli response.

The Israeli official said that Russians had clarified that the crossing over was an error.

He added that this was also discussed during a phone call between the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Russian president on July 23.

The Russian statement issued back then didn’t discuss the incident and stated that the phone call was about the coordination against terrorism between both countries. The two also discussed regional matters.

During his meeting with political correspondents last week, Netanyahu refused to comment whether the drone was Russian, but didn’t deny the information either. He told the press that there is constant communication between Israel and Russia regarding Syria.

He added that coordination is important between the two armies.