Was Israel right to shoot down that plane?

Yesterday a Syrian war plane crossed into Israeli airspace and was shot down by an Israeli Patriot missile moments later. The aircraft was a Russian made Sukhoi-24. The Syrian Air Force used to have 19 of them according to the Times of Israel. It is a pretty clear cut incident, a Syrian war plane strays into Israeli territory and is shot down as a result.

Not so for everyone.

In the website +972 Larry Derfner takes issue with this incident. He looks at the information and decides that Israel is at fault. Even more than this he thinks that this kind of behaviour is going to start another war and that’s what he’s afraid of. He called his article “Another Israeli act of military madness in Syria”.

Straight off the bat he’s misunderstood a small detail of this story. He writes;

So what did Israel do then? What else? It blew the Syrian jet out of the sky. The crippled plane landed on the Syrian side of the border. Thankfully, the Syrian pilots ejected safely.”

Now I’m not an expert in war planes but as far as I know the Sukhoi-24 can’t land itself once the pilots have ejected. So far as I understand the pilots ejected and the plane was destroyed. In his rush to criticize Israel I think Derfner forgot to read through his piece and check it.

But really I wanted to hi-light this piece because it’s exemplary of a certain state of mind that we see sometimes and on +972 relatively often. It’s the knee jerk criticism of Israel routine. I don’t know what it is the Derfner expects from the IDF in this situation. He says that;

All these details – the Syrian jet’s incursion was an accident, it lasted two seconds before Israel fired the missile, it was the first Syrian incursion in 30 years, the jet was planning to bomb Al-Nusra jihadists on the Syrian side of the border – point to an act of incredible recklessness and stupidity.

But in all honesty I don’t know what it is he wants the IDF to do here, short of allowing the aircraft to actually bomb Israel. The guys with their fingers on the air defense button have mere seconds to react. The rules are simple and effectively have kept the “peace” between Israel and Syria since 1982; there is a line dividing Israel and Syria, beyond that line you do NOT cross. Any crossing of said line will result in Israeli fire.

But more to the point is that to my mind this is such a clear cut case that Derfner’s take on it represents a mindset whereby Israel simply can’t do the right thing. Unlike in the West Bank where just about everything fades into a murky shade of grey, sometimes darker, sometimes lighter, but always grey, this situation is clear; Syrian war plane crosses into Israel and is shot down as a result.

This is demonstrative of someone who is so sure that he has the right answers and so frustrated that Israel hasn’t adopted any of them that just about anything Israel does is fodder for his criticism. By the same token just about anything others do is acceptable. It seems strange to me that Derfner actually defends the Syrian Air Force in this situation on the grounds that they claimed the aircraft was on its way to bomb the Al Nusra Front. This is a part of the military that has murdered 120,000 people most of them innocent civilians. Why would he believe their claim about the mission the aircraft was on?

When it comes to shooting down aircraft that have flown into Israeli air space and when it comes to defending Israel and the people in it, Derfner needs to re-evaluate what his position is. The fear that he expresses is that;

I believe Israel will set off a war with Hezbollah or Syria or Iran or somebody, because its limitless fear produces limitless aggression”

This is a justifiable fear to have, but so is the fear that a war plane flying into Israeli territory and loaded with bombs is going to attack a target in Israel. I don’t know how long a hostile aircraft needs to remain in Israeli airspace before Derfner considers it a threat, I don’t need to know and the Syrians and everyone else for that matter already know. There is NO amount of time a hostile aircraft is allowed to be in Israeli airspace before being shot down.

Now everyone knows the rules and the consequences for breaking them.