Tension between Israel, Syria and Iran, reached an all-time-high over the weekend, in what military analysts defined as “the worst escalation since 1982.” The chain-of-events started on Saturday morning, when an Iranian-operated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle crossed from Syria into Israeli airspace. The drone has managed to infiltrate Israel some six-and-a-half kilometers before an Apache attack helicopter was ordered to intercept the target.
In response to the incident, Israel’s Air Force launched an attack against the control-vehicle from which the IDF said “the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was operated,” in the Syrian T-4 military airbase near the city of Palmyra. Throughout the course the Israeli sortie, Syria launched multiple surface-to-air missiles toward the Israeli F-16i fighter-jets, during which one, of the at least eight planes, was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile. Both pilots managed to eject the plane and landed within Israeli territory. One of the pilots sustained severe injuries, yet after a day of treatment at the Rambam medical center in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, his condition was stabilized and is now classified in “moderate condition.” A little under three hours since the Israeli fighter-jet was shot-down, the Israel Air Force carried out a large-scale attack. The IDF’s spokesperson’s unit said that it targeted 12 military objectives, including three Syrian defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria. Airforce Brigadier General Amnon Ein Dar, who heads of the Air Group that was responsible for the Israeli operation, declared it to be “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has carried out against Syrian air defenses since 1982.”
Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Israel landed hard blows on the forces of Iran and Syria. In a brief statement ahead of his government’s weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu re-emphasized that the strong response to the Iranian aggression has made it unequivocally clear to Israel’s enemies that Jerusalem will continue to strike back against any attempt to harm the Jewish state and will respond with force against any blow afflicted against it.
An Israeli military official told TV7, however, that the successful downing of an Israeli F-16i fighter jet by Syrian Russian-made SA-5 and SA-17 air-defenses, has caught Jerusalem by surprise. The official, who talked on condition of anonymity, stressed that the relatively primitive technology of the air defenses should have provided the F-16i with a clear evasive advantage, alleging that the incident points to a possible human-error. Nevertheless, the official emphasized that a thorough investigation into the incident was ongoing, and only after its conclusions the Israeli Air Force will have to learn and implement the necessary actions.