IDF troops mistakenly open fire on suspected drone in Golan Heights
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IDF troops mistakenly open fire on suspected drone in Golan Heights

Army subsequently determines that no aircraft crossed border, announces a return to normal routine

Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Golan Heights look out across the border with Syria on July 7, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers at an army base in the Golan Heights look out across the border with Syria on July 7, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

Israeli troops in the Golan Heights opened fire Sunday on what they thought was a drone infiltrating Israeli airspace.

The Israel Defense Forces determined after the incident that no aircraft had crossed the border, however, and declared a return to normal routine.

It wasn’t immediately clear what had set off alarms.

In a similar incident, on August 21 soldiers opened fire at a crop-dusting plane flying over the Golan Heights, mistaking it for an infiltrating aircraft from Syria, in what the IDF called a “serious incident.”

The pilot was not injured.

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.

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.

It appeared unlikely that an agricultural plane had been involved in Sunday’s incident, which occurred after dark on the eve of the Sukkot holiday.

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