Israel Shocked by Russia’s Blame for Downing of Plane by Syrian Forces


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

(THIS IS A CASE OF YOUR SISTER SHOT YOU IN THE BACK BUT BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT TO PISS OFF THE FAMILY, YOU BLAME IT ON THEIR NEIGHBOR.)

Israel Shocked by Russia’s Blame for Downing of Plane by Syrian Forces

Monday, 24 September, 2018 – 10:15
An explosion is pictured at Quneitra at the Syrian side of the Israeli Syrian border, as seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel July 22, 2018. (File photo: Reuters)
Tel Aviv- Nazir Majli
Israel was shocked with Russian accusations that it was responsible for the downing of the Ilyushin 20 plane in Lattakia a week ago. Officials declined to comment publicly on the issue, however, they leaked to the media explanations, assessments and political stances that Russians are launching a campaign aimed at establishing a new position that restricts the freedom of the Israeli air force to carry out raids on Iranian bases in Syria.

Former chief of Israel’s air force indicated that Russia received IAF chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, last Thursday, and listened to his explanations about the downing of the plane.

According to the retired general, Moscow accepted Israeli explanations that the Syrian defenses are responsible for attacking the plane, however, they offered a contradicting rhetoric in their public campaign. He believes Russian officials are in a very difficult position given that their Syrian allies dropped a plane and killed all 15 crew members.

Military expert Ron Ben-Yishai indicated in his op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth that the most striking thing about the report produced by the Russian Defense Ministry is the fact that it ignores the findings of the investigation conducted in Israel that were presented by Maj. Gen. Norkin and Israeli intelligence officials who accompanied him to Moscow in a bid to lower the ensuing tension.

In an unprecedented diplomatic move, Israel sent its air force commander with authorized and detailed documentation to Moscow which was intended not only to shed light on what transpired, but also on the events leading up to it.

Yet, the Russians ignored Israeli reports and bore Israel the sole responsibility for the incident. The report didn’t even try to refute Israel’s claims or to make counterclaims against the information Russians had been provided just days earlier.

The report seems as though absolutely no attempt to clarify matters was made by the Israeli side.

They demonstrated just how “ungrateful Israel apparently is to the charitable Russians who are trying to protect it and are only repaid in bad faith,” added Yishai.

The expert believes that upon analyzing the Russian position, two major conclusions can be depicted.

First, they are trying to ensure that the Russians did not provide their Syrian allies with the electronic signals to identify their planes. The aim is to show that the incident was not due to Syrian army’s ignorance, but rather that Russian officers who operate jointly with the Syrian air defenses did not train them well or provide them with radars to detect the plane.

The second reason is to solicit new compromises from Israel regarding the situation in Syria. The Defense Ministry did not include in its report any warning or threat of retaliation. “It can be assumed that the Russians will try to use the crisis against Israel to limit the freedom over Syria’s skies which it has been granted by Moscow through new agreements,” he indicated.

The Israeli government must ignore the Russian lies and the refusal to take into consideration the investigation findings, in the hope that this will calm the situation, and it will be possible to fully resume the security coordination with the Russians.

Haaretz’s military correspondent, Amos Harel considered that Russian Defense Ministry’s report should not surprise anyone in Israel, except maybe for a few supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu cannot make the problem disappear,” he said.

An experienced pilot described Russian inquiry’s as “rather dubious”, according to Harel, who added that some of the claims included in its announcement “are strange”.

The bottom line still depends on Putin’s decision, who will probably take the report’s findings and come out with new agreements with Israel in Syria.

The Russian President is aware of an Iranian attempt to smuggle arms into Syria and Israel’s intention to attack the shipment, and this will be another test for the Russia-Israeli agreements, concluded Harel.

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