While a Syrian fighter jet was shot down by Israeli forces, it doesn’t mean that Israel is choosing the Syrian opposition over the Assad regime. In fact, according to an Israeli General, Israel is doing its best to stay out of Syria’s conflict. As for why the plane was shot down, well it crossed into Israeli airspace:
The Israeli military said on Tuesday morning that it had shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had “infiltrated into Israeli airspace,” the first such episode in at least a quarter-century.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said a Patriot air-defense system had intercepted a Russian-made Sukhoi warplane over the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights around 9:15 a.m. Brig. Gen. Ram Shmueli, a former head of intelligence in the Israeli Air Force who is now serving in the reserves, said that the pilots of the jet, which he identified as an Su-24, had ejected safely in Syrian territory.
“We cannot tolerate any penetration of the Israeli airspace, so we had to shoot him down even though we understand that his intention was not to attack us,” General Shmueli told reporters in a conference call, saying the aircraft had flown half a mile into Israeli airspace. “We are not involved in the war in Syria, and we don’t have any intention to be involved. We have to keep our borders safe on one side but we have to make sure we are not part of this war.”
Here is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explaining in very simple terms why his country shot down the jet:
Shooting down a plane that enters your airspace and is from a neighboring country that has a history of being hostile should not constitute entering the fray on Israel’s part. Yet, despite Israel’s quest for neutrality, there are some that will not believe it.
Notwithstanding the comments by Syrian Foreign Minister that Israel is part of the coalition that is fighting the Assad regime, much of what he says makes sense here. He maintains that the regime welcomes air strikes but that without a ground operation coordinated with the Syrian government, they will not be effective. He, like many, also makes the case that there is no ‘moderate’ opposition: