From: Vienna, Austria
Yes, the target selection was deliberate. AGAIN. It was a blip on a screen, looked at by a bunch of armed civilians.
It's happened before, many times. Remember the Vincennes? Or, as I stated earlier, KAL 007.
You may be right that it was not a deliberate attack against a civilian airliner, but an error. In this case the complete moron, egomanic bastard, or as Cannonfodder put it, idiots, theory applies.
I don´t think Vincennes shootdown and KAL 007 are directly complarable to this situation.
Vincennes AEGIS ID´d the blip as an F14, but even then tried to contact the airliner several times over military and emergency frequencies - which where heard but ignored by the Iranian pilots - and only engaged after failing to receive a reply. It still was an error - supported by the faulty AEGIS ID and the Iranian pilots ignoring the radio calls - but at least attempts were made to prevent it.
KAL 007 was shot down over Sakhalin after crossing Kamchatka and a 2 hour flight through Soviet airspace, 500nm north of their planned route, because the pilots failed to note the autopilot to be on heading setting instead of INS (or rather with INS in armed mode waiting for intercept of a waypoint - which never came because of the initial course deviation). After crossing the position of an USAAF RC-135 on station to track ICBM launches, the Soviets then misidentified the airliner as the recon bird. The combination of the pilot error and the presence of the RC-135 lead to the shootdown, but only after the airliner pilots fialed to spot the interceptors or the warning shots fired at them. Also the attack was commenced when KAL 007 received clearance to a new flight level, and the altitude change was interpreted by the Soviets as evasive maneuver.
In case of the Malaysian incident over Donezk obviously none of the above error chains applied. As it looks now it was a flight in non-restricted airspace, on track and on time.
So if it was no deliberate shootdown of a civilian aircraft, it was a complete moron who just found out what that red button on the launcher console of an SA-11 mount does and fired at something bright green without wasting a thought.
Which is as despicable as deliberately shooting at a civilian airliner.