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Israel: Russia plane entered Israeli-controlled zone without incident

'Russian planes do not intend to attack us, which is why we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs'
Russia will be importing vegetables from Israel and other countries instead of Turkey (AFP)

A Russian warplane recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria but the intrusion was resolved without incident, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Sunday.

"There was a slight intrusion a mile [1.6 kilometres] deep by a Russian plane from Syria into our airspace, but it was immediately resolved and the Russian plane returned towards Syria," Yaalon told public radio.

"It was apparently an error by the pilot who was flying near the Golan."

Yaalon recalled that Israel and Russia had made arrangements to avoid clashes over Syria, with the agreement said to include a "hotline" and information sharing.

He said: "Russian planes do not intend to attack us, which is why we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in Moscow in September to discuss ways of avoiding accidental clashes when their air forces fly over Syria.

Yaalon's comments come after the recent downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey, which claims it strayed over the Syrian border into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to change course. Moscow denies the allegations.

Russia to import vegetables from Israel instead of Turkey  

The downing of the Russian plane prompted Moscow to carry out of economic measures against Ankara, including plans to import vegetables, mainly tomatoes, from Israel and other countries instead of Turkey.  

Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria on 30 September at the request of its longstanding ally President Bashar al-Assad and that Moscow says is targeting Islamic State militants and other "terrorist" groups.

Critics say Russia is mainly targeting Syrian rebels who are also fighting IS militants as well as forces loyal to Assad, who is backed by Moscow.

Israel has reportedly launched more than a dozen air strikes in Syria since 2013, mainly targeting alleged arms transfers to Lebanon's Hezbollah.

In September 2014, Israel downed a Syrian warplane over the Golan Heights in the first such incident in three decades and warned it would respond "forcefully" if its security was threatened.

Israel seized most of the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and later annexed the territory in a move condemned by the international community.