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IAF Jet Shoots Down Unknown Object from Jordan

Unidentified flying object over Dead Sea was not far from Dimona. It was apparently an unmanned balloon.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/16/2010, 4:34 PM / Last Update: 12/16/2010, 4:39 PM

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An Israel Air Force fighter jet shot down an unidentified flying object that penetrated Israeli air space early Thursday afternoon. The object is thought to have been a balloon. Investigation of the incident is ongoing.

The object entered Israeli airspace from Jordan, over the southern Dead Sea. There was concern that it would go near the nuclear plant in Dimona, which is located near the spot where the object was shot down.

No one was hurt. IAF sources said the balloon was unmanned and that this was verified before it was shot down.

Flight routes in the skies over the Negev were severely limited in the course of the incident. Some flights were delayed and pilots of commercial flights were instructed to maintain low-altitude flight paths.

An earlier aerial incident over the Dimona Nuclear Research Center occurred in October 2009. An ultralight aircraft entered the restricted airspace over the sensitive installation, IAF jets were scrambled and it was forced to land at a landing strip near Arad.

The Dimona plant is believed to be high among the targets that Iranian puppet militia Hizbullah's missiles would attack if a war between Israel and Iran broke out. Israel's retaliation in such a case would probably be devastating. The Jewish State's missile defense programs are reportedly mostly in place to protect its sensitive facilities and not its civilian population centers.