Jerusalem regrets Russian loss of life, accuses Iran’ activities in Syria as “root of problem”

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that while Moscow holds close ties with Jerusalem, the circumstances surrounding the tragedy – in which a Russian aircraft was shot down – must be investigated by Israel. During a Foreign Ministry press conference in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asserted that the Israeli Air Force’ must take responsibility for its actions, that according to Russian military experts, lacked professionalism. In her words, “It is clear that the September 17 tragedy will require that Israel conduct an additional investigation and provide an explanation. I believe the explanation will be given soon. In my view, the Israeli pilots, whose actions created a threat to the Russian aircraft, leading to it being shot down – information from our military experts testifies to this – lacked professionalism, to say the least.”

The Kremlin’s demands came at the backdrop of a visit to Moscow by a senior Israeli military delegation that was headed by Israeli Air Force commander, Major General Amikam Norkin. The IDF Spokesperson’s unit told TV7 that General Norkin presented “a situation report of the event regarding all aspects, including the pre-mission information and the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the events that took place.” In addition to the situation report, the Israeli delegation presented their Russian counterparts with intelligence, proving ongoing breaches of Jerusalem’s declared red-line, including: “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.” The decision to send the senior Israeli delegation came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the eve of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. According to Netanyahu, he expressed Israel’s regret over the deaths of 15 Russian air-crew members, while asserting that the root of the problem that led to the downing of the Russian plane is Iran’s attempt to use Syria as a base for attacks against the Jewish state. According to the Israeli Prime Minister, “I spoke with President Putin on the eve of Yom Kippur, right before the start of the holy day. I expressed my regret and that of the citizens of Israel over the deaths of the 15 Russian air crew members, whose plane was brought down by Syrian fire. I told him that the root of the problem is Iran’s attempt to use Syrian territory for attacks against Israel and to arm our enemies, such as Hezbollah. I told him that we have the right of self-defense. There is also very great importance to maintaining the security coordination between Israel and Russia; therefore, I decided to send GOC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin to Moscow with a double objective. One, to continue defending our citizens, and two, to preserve the cooperation between our two countries.” Prime Minister Netanyahu also took the opportunity to refer to a threat by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who boasted in his Iranian-backed militia for bolstering its military might, while threatening Israel not to test his organization’s capabilities. Netanyahu stated that “I heard the arrogant words that came from the direction of Hezbollah. This comes from the same man who said after 2006 that if he had known what Israel’s response would be to the abduction of three of our soldiers, he would have thought twice about doing it. Then today I suggest that he think not twice but 20 times because if he confronts us he will receive a crushing blow that he cannot even imagine.” The leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia told his Shi’ite Muslim followers, during the annual Ashura festival, that Israel would face a reality that it has never experienced before, while declaring Israel’s efforts to preserve its red lines, as a clear failure. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared that “No matter what you do to cut the route, the matter is over, and the resistance possesses precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities, if Israel imposes a war on Lebanon, Israel will face a fate, and a reality, it has never expected on any day.” Hassan Nasrallah’s annual televised address, from an undisclosed location, aimed to bolster his followers’ morale during the most holy festival to Shi’ite Muslims. During the festival of Ashura, Male participants beat their chests and heads and flagellated themselves with knives and swords during a public procession to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein Ibn Ali, one of the grandsons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, near Karbala, in what is now Iraq. It is important to note that the death of Hussein Ibn Ali is the key factor in the rift and hatred between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Hezbollah Militant Hadi said, “I’ve been coming here for more than 35 years, and I perform the act of self-flagellation, along with my sons and I have a grandson who is a year and three-months-old who participates as well.” / “I am protecting Lady Zainab and protecting my country as well as Iraq, Syria and the whole region. We do not self-flagellate and waste our blood for no reason.”