Close Encounters of the Wrong Kind: Russia and Israeli Planes Near Dogfight
Last month, on the eve of Passover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jumped onto his plane and rushed to Moscow. He returned later that same day.
The eve of Passover is arguably the busiest day of the year in Israel. It’s true for every sector of Israeli life, politics included. Busier even than the eve of Rosh HaShannah or Yom Kippur. And yet, Mr. Netanyahu flew off to visit President Vladimir Putin. The trip took on the status of “high risk” even “near crisis.” A pro forma visit to Moscow had been planned to Russia, but without the urgency.
The agenda was hurriedly changed after a Russian fighter jet was scrambled to intercept an Israeli jet. And the week before that, Israeli jets were targeted by Russian jets. Israel did not respond to these aggressive Russian acts, the air force showed maturity by not responding and risking a major international crisis.
On his trip to Moscow Netanyahu was accompanied by the head of the Israeli air force, Major General Amir Eshel, as well as his military advisor, Brigadier General Eliezer Toledano.
These issues between air forces should nevr have happened. In September of 2015, in a series of top secret meetings that took place in Tel Aviv, a special mode of communication was set up between Israel and Russia to resolve such issues. The objective of the September meetings was to prevent any mishap and to make certain that Israel and Russia would not fly over one another in Syria. Russia and Israel even exchanged specially designated and encrypted cell phones. But the system failed.
It was all supposed to be a coordinated effort. In fact, Russia agreed not to share any of Israel’s information or movements with Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-AssadAssad or with Iran. And then, right before Passover, it all seemed to collapse.
So the Prime Minister of Israel headed
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