Report: Saudis Threaten to Shoot Down Iran-Bound Israeli Planes
Saudi Arabia has informed Israel in recent weeks that it will shoot down any Israeli planes that fly over its airspace on their way to or from Iran. A report in Yediot Achronot Thursday said that the Saudis have made it known that they will not allow their airspace to be used for any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by Israel, the U.S., or any other country.
According to the report, the Saudis transferred the message to Israel via senior officials in the administration of U.S. President Barack H. Obama. The officials had just recently returned from talks in Israel with senior members of the government.
IDF intelligence, the report said, had identified four air routes that could be used to attack Iran – one of them over Saudi Arabia. The Saudi route would have Israeli fighter jets flying south, turning into Saudi territory for a short time, and then exiting into the Persian Gulf and Iran.
As a result of the warning, the report said, Israeli officials are now concerned that they will have to figure out a way to avoid a battle with the Saudi air force if the southern route is chosen. Although Saudi pilots are not known for their skills, the country has a wide array of sophisticated defensive and offensive systems and weapons, thanks to massive American arms sales.
However, some Israeli officials were doubtful that the message had been the idea of the Saudis' alone, saying that message was part of the ongoing pressures by American officials to prevent Israel from attacking Iran without Washington's permission.