Author: YOSSI MELMAN
Posted on March 17, 2017
In the most serious border incident since the start of the Syrian civil war six years ago, Arrow defense system intercepted a Syrian Missile fired at an IAF fighter jet, just after midnight on Thursday night.
The incident showed the explosiveness that is threatening Israeli-Syrian relations, with the presence of Iran and Hezbollah, who are attempting to reach Israel’s borders.
Sponsored by the Syrian military regime under President Bashar Assad, the forces are looking to open a new front in addition to the Lebanese border.
Thursday night’s incident was similar to about 15 events that had been reported by foreign media over the past six years.
One can estimate that Israel’s intelligence gathered accurate information which enabled the IAF to target what is considered “Strategic weapons,” or in other words, accurate, long-range missiles.
After completing the mission, while on their way back to Israel, Syria’s anti-aircraft missile defense system was activated. However, the fired missile missed the IAF planes.
Syria’s response to the IAF’s fire forced the IAF to use its own Arrow battery, to shoot down at least one Syrian missile.
It would be the first time that the Arrow defense system, which was built to intercept ground-to-ground and ballistic missiles, was successfully used to shoot down an anti-aircraft missile.
Israel presumably did not intend to report the attack, wanting to continue with its ambiguous policy of neither confirming nor denying its actions in Syria. Such attacks are usually reported by foreign media and official statements from the Syrian army. This time, however, the IDF spokesperson confirmed the attacks in the early morning hours, a result of the fact that alert systems were activated in the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem area. Residents claimed to have heard and seen the launch.
An IDF source told The Jerusalem Post that Israel has no plans to escalate or intensify tension with the Syrian army; however, Israel will continue to operate according to its red lines, working to stop transfer of weapons, mainly accurate long-range missiles being transferred from Iran, through Syria, to Hezbollah.
Syria, Iran and Hezbollah also have no interest in an escalation, especially with Syria’s civil war raging on with no end in sight.
This issue was a focal point in talks last week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Netanyahu sought to intensify Putin’s understanding of Israel’s interests in Syria as well as its red lines. Netanyahu stressed that Israel will not allow any attempts by Iran or Hezbollah to send their forces to Israel’s border with Syria in the Golan Heights.
However, it seems that even though Putin may understand Israel’s interests, Russia’s influence on Assad and his army is not absolute.