Syrian air defenses launched anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli warplanes this Friday, prompting a rare confirmation on the part of the IDF as to the attack – an attack directed against, in Benjamin Netanyahu’s words, advanced arms destined for Hezbollah hands.
The planes were engaged in launching an airstrike against a Hezbollah weapons convoy within Syria, the Jerusalem Post reported. In retaliation, Syria’s anti-air missile defenses fired on the warplanes.
The Times of Israel quoted Benjamin Netanyahu summing up his policy as: “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it. That’s how it was yesterday and that’s how we shall continue to act.”
According to the Syrians, four aircraft in total took part in the strike – one of which was shot down and the others forced to flee. The IDF, however, denied that, stating that “at no point was the safety of civilians or IAF aircraft compromised.” They further claimed that one of the anti-air missiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow defense system, resulting in an explosion audible as far as Jerusalem.
Questions about Israel’s use of the Arrow system prompted one senior IDF officer in the Air Defense Command to assert that Israel faced a ballistic missile threat that posed a danger to the country and its citizens, as the Jerusalem Post reported.
According to The Guardian, the strike led to outrage in Russia, Assad’s firmest ally in the civil war. The day after the exchange, the Russian government summoned the Israeli ambassador, Gary Koren, and demanded an explanation for the mission.
Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the strike hit close to Russian troops, The Guardian continued.
Meanwhile, protests against the attack have only stiffened the Israeli government’s resolve. The country’s hard-line Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened hard measures against any further incidents, a further demonstration of the major policies of the Benjamin Netanyahu government.
“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
The strikes did not stop on Friday, however.
On Sunday, according to The Times of Israel, an Israeli drone strike killed a senior officer in a Syrian pro-regime militia. Some claimed the victim, Hussein Assayed, was a Syrian air defense commander. Others claimed that he was a civilian.
Then, on the evening of Sunday-Monday, Israel launched yet another attack into Syria – the third in three days, and the second in 24 hours.
Israel has held the Syrian regime responsible for arms transfers to Hezbollah, and has sworn to act to intercept them. The Times reported that Defense Minister Lieberman said that any time they discover a transfer of military arms between Syria and Lebanon, they will do what it takes to stop them. They will not compromise on this topic. He continued to say that the Syrians must know that they are responsible for these arms deals with Hezbollah and if continue down this road, Israel will do what they have to do to stop them.
What do you think of Israel’s strikes inside Syria? Should Israel be allowed to intervene to prevent Hezbollah from being armed? What should Syria do about the strikes? And what should Russia do? Sound off in the comments and tell us what you think.
By James Mayfield