Israel is investigating why two passenger planes that had been flying over Egypt late last month penetrated Israeli airspace without warning, nearly causing a collision between an Israel Air Force jet and a British aircraft, Israeli aviation sources said yesterday.

Israeli authorities have submitted a complaint to Egyptian aviation authorities, which were responsible for monitoring the flights.

The air force deployed two F-16 fighter jets to intercept an African aircraft that had veered into Israeli airspace over Eilat on September 25. One of the IAF jets nearly collided with a British plane that had penetrated Israeli airspace while the air force jets were being deployed.

In Israel, the investigation is being conducted by the air force and the Civil Aviation Authority. Sources familiar with the case would not give the names of the airlines involved in the incident.

"The British passenger plane veered north into Israeli airspace, out of its approved flight path, without coordination or approval," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. "After the incident, a complaint was filed with the Civil Aviation Authority, which passed it on to the Egyptian aviation authorities."

The Civil Aviation Authority declined to comment.

The British aircraft, which was headed for Europe, took off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and "was under Cairo's supervision as it approached," the IDF said.

The plane had not been scheduled to travel through Israeli airspace, Israeli sources said. They said the plane banked northwest and flew 13 miles into Israeli airspace, without warning.

The F-16s came dangerously close to the plane, which the Israeli pilots failed to notice. It was spotted by IAF air traffic controllers in time to prevent a crash.

"On September 25, 2010, a British passenger plane approached dangerously close to an Air Force fighter jet while it was conducting an operation in the south of the country," the IDF said in its statement.

Earlier this month, flares that were apparently fired by the Israel Police nearly struck a private plane flying over Haifa.