ISRAELI warplanes nearly shot down a US airliner flying from New York to Tel Aviv today when the pilot failed to respond as it approached Israel's coast.
Two Israeli F-15s and two F-16s fighter planes intercepted a Boeing 777 operated by US Continental Airlines as it prepared to enter Israeli airspace without responding to control tower demands to identify itself, the official said.
According to Israel's private Channel-10, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defence Minister Amir Peretz and General Gaby Ashkenazy, chief of staff, were warned that the air force was on the point of shooting down a civilian plane suspected of being in the hands of hijackers.
The Boeing pilot at the last minute realised the situation and the danger threatening his craft and established contact while still over the Mediterranean.
Escorted by the warplanes, the Boeing landed without further problems at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport where an inquiry was opened.
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