Israeli Jets Scramble to Intercept U.S. Airliner After Communications Loss

Israel air force fighter planes scrambled Wednesday to intercept a U.S. airliner after it lost communications with air controllers, security officials said.

The Continental passenger plane was flying in from the U.S. when it lost contact. Following anti-terror procedures, two Israeli warplanes intercepted the plane and guided it back over the Mediterranean Sea until communications were restored, Channel 10 TV reported.

When it was determined that there were no problems on board and the pilot was in control, the plane was allowed to land at Israel's international airport, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the incident.

Israeli media reported later Wednesday that the air force planes were close to opening fire on the airliner when it restored contact. The pilot was interrogated after landing.

In 1973, Israeli air force planes shot down a Libyan passenger plane that strayed over Israeli-controlled territory, killing more than 100 passengers and crew and triggering wide international criticism.