The Israeli strike on Monday targeting an anti-aircraft missile battery in Syria was an “important” event that sent a message to the Jewish state’s enemies, a former IDF Military Intelligence chief said.
“It demonstrates that Israel will not shy away from its need to collect intelligence on the buildup of Hezbollah with the support of Iran and the Assad regime,” Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin — who as an IAF pilot took part in the 1981 destruction of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor and is now the director of the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies — tweeted.
The SA-5 battery — located about 30 miles east of the Syrian capital of Damascus — was bombed hours after it had fired a missile toward IAF planes conducting a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon. Later on Monday, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime warned that Israel’s action would have “dangerous consequences.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a video statement on Monday, “Our policy is clear — anyone who tries to hurt us, we will hurt them. Today, they tried to hit our planes — this is not acceptable to us.”
“The air force acted with precision, swiftness and destroyed what needed to be destroyed,” Netanyahu continued. “We will continue to act in the arena as much as needed to defend Israel’s security.”
Since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011, Israel has largely sought to remain neutral in the bloody conflict, which has drawn in many regional players. However, the IDF has responded with pinpoint strikes to occasional cross-border fire — both errant and intentional — in the Golan Heights and has reportedly targeted a number of Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys in Syria in recent years.
Israel has also provided medical treatment to thousands of people wounded in the fighting in Syria.
Recently, Israel has been publicly expressing its concerns about Iran’s ongoing bid to set up a permanent presence in Syria.
In August, Netanyahu flew to Sochi for a sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the meeting, Netanyahu stated, “Iran is increasing its efforts to establish its military foothold in Syria. That is dangerous for Israel, the Middle East and, I believe, the whole world.”
After Moscow’s military intervention in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime began two years ago, Israel and Russia set up a coordination mechanism to avoid unintended confrontations between their forces. This mechanism was used during Monday’s strike, according to the IDF.
The IAF regularly conducts reconnaissance flights over Lebanon to keep an eye on Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shia terrorist group based in the country. Over the past three decades, Hezbollah has carried out countless attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians and, in the summer of 2006, fought a 33-day-long war against the IDF.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner . Barney Breen-Portnoy