After his military shot down an Iranian drone infiltrating Israeli airspace and struck numerous Syrian military bases, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the Jewish State will stop at nothing and aggressively attack its enemies to ensure the safety of its people.
“[Israel will protect itself from] any threat or any attempt to harm its sovereignty,” Netanyahu proclaimed Saturday in response to destroying the Islamic Republic’s drone, according to Fox News. “Israel is seeking for peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves against any attack against us, and against any attempt by Iran to establish military bases in Syria or anywhere else.”
Israel on top of things …
Later in the day, the prime minister stressed that the international community did not heed earlier warnings issued by his military that Iran was an imminent threat and that Israel would not hesitate to obliterate any threat to its security.
"I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran's military entrenchment in Syria," Netanyahu announced in a press statement Saturday evening, according to CBN News. "Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel.”
He then detailed Iran’s instigation of Saturday’s events and noted that Israel is too savvy to be fooled by the deceptive and dangerous maneuverings the Islamic Republic – which refers to Israel as “Little Satan.”
“This morning, Iran brazenly violated Israel's sovereignty,” the Jewish leader continued. “They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel, and this demonstrates that our warnings were 100-percent correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today's aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security."
Netanyahu’s vow to protect came after meeting with leaders of Israel’s armed forces at its Tel Aviv military headquarters, where he announced that he had briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin about the escalating Middle East tensions. He had spoken with the Russian leader about Israel’s escalating tensions in the region during his recent Moscow trip, but he was not encouraged by Putin’s lack of resolve to put any restraints on Iran.
Having backed the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for many years during the Islamic nation’s civil war, Russia – which has established a massive military presence in Syria – has condemned Israel and urged its restraint from further retaliation against its Arab neighbors.
"It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are in Syria at the invitation of its legitimate government to assist in the fight against terrorists," Russia's foreign ministry declared, according to Fox News.
Israel’s Brig. General (ret.) Yossi Kupperwasser – who formerly served as the head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Intelligence Research and Assessment Division – said Iran’s recent move was strategically carried out to mobilize its military for a future attack on Israel.
"[The drone maneuver was] an attempt of the Iranians to shape the situation in Syria toward the end of the civil war [for their own interests],” Kupperwasser explained to the press in a conference call, according to CBN News. "They want to turn Syria into an Iranian base from which they can threaten Israel both with their military capabilities and with their terror-supported capabilities. They also want to turn Syria into an area from which they can transfer weapons to their surrogates – mainly Hezbollah."
Kupperwasser – who also served as the former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs – explained that Iran has had to use two new tactics after its unsuccessful attempts to attack Israel, with one being Saturday’s UAV (drone) maneuver to strike Israel from within its borders, and the other being its plan to establish an Iranian military industry in Lebanon designed to arm the terrorist group Hezbollah with cutting-edge munitions to use inside Israel.
He stressed that Israel will continue to boldly smash any threat to its national security, emphasizing that the Jewish State is the only nation in the Middle East that is not afraid to counter Iran’s militant maneuverings in the region.
"Israel responded in a very strong manner, and in the context of this exchange, we lost a plane,” Kupperwasser added. “Clearly it didn't stop Israel from making sure its messages were received on the other side – that we will not tolerate this kind of thing."
U.S. support of Israel confirmed
After Saturday’s chain of events, Netanyahu also spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about Israel’s involvement in the latest Middle East confrontation, and the Trump administration was quick to take the Jewish State’s side – further strengthening America’s longstanding partnership with the only democracy in the region.
“[The U.S.] strongly supports Israel's sovereign right to defend itself," a statement from the State Department read after the incident, according to Fox News. "Iran's calculated escalation of threat and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the region – from Yemen to Lebanon – at risk. The U.S. continues to push back on the totality of Iran's malign activities in the region and calls for an end to Iranian behavior that threatens peace and stability."
Taking no chances
Immediately following its takedown of the infiltrating Iranian drone, Israeli fighter jets hit more than a dozen Iranian targets in a “large-scale attack” far inside Syrian borders – an operation that ended in one of its F-16s being downed.
“The raids hit at least 12 targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four targets that were part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria,” Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and Lucia I. Suarez Sang reported. “The offensive marks Israel’s most substantial involvement in Syria to date.”
The Iranian threat along Israel’s northern border with Syria and Lebanon had been addressed numerous times by the Jewish State via several recent strong warnings, but the rogue jihadist regime paid little heed.
“[The drone infiltration is a] severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty [and Iran will be held directly accountable for its interference,” Israeli leaders insisted, according to Fox News.
Israel’s Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis indicated that Iran’s recent move was reckless, foolish and irresponsible.
"This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory,” Israel’s chief military spokesman asserted, according to Fox News. “Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn't know how it will end. Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price."
If Israel’s F-16 was struck before it crashed, it would end a streak of more than 35 years since one of its planes was shot down.
“Israel would not confirm whether the aircraft was actually shot down by enemy fire, which would mark the first such instance for Israel since 1982 during the first Lebanon war,” Joyce and Suarez Sang informed. “According to Syrian state TV, which quoted a military official, Syrian air defenses struck more than one Israeli plane, and called the Israeli raids that hit a base a ‘new Israeli aggression.’”
According to Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus, Iran will be held accountable for its threatening drone invasion, which the military says is currently in Israel’s possession – what is left of it.
“[The intercepted drone was] on a military mission sent and operated by Iranian military forces," Conricus maintained, according to Fox News. “[Iran is] responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty."
True to form, Iran refused to admit its drone was nabbed by Israel, and claimed that its remote aircraft never breached Israel’s borders.
“Iran denied Israel's shooting down of a drone, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasem calling the account ‘ridiculous,’ while the joint operations room for the Syrian military and its allies insisted the drone had not violated Israeli airspace and was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on Islamic State militants,” Joyce and Suarez Sang pointed out. “Iranian involvement along Israel’s border in Syria and Lebanon has been a growing concern as it fears Iran could use the region to position attacks or develop a land route from the country to Lebanon in an effort to deliver weapons to Hezbollah more efficiently, [b]ut Israel has refrained from striking Iranian sites directly.”
Hezbollah – an Iranian-installed terrorist group operating in Syria and oftentimes in Israel’s West Bank and Gaza Strip amongst the Palestinians – celebrated Israel’s downed F-16 fighter, insisting that the destroyed aircraft marks the ushering in of future destruction for Israel.
“This is the beginning of a new strategic era which puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territory,” Hezbollah announced via a statement published by Lebanon’s ANI news agency, according to the Times of Israel.
The Assad-supporting jihadist organization credited and applauded Syria for allegedly knocking down one of Israel’s warplanes.
“[We praise the] vigilance of the Syrian army, [which has] bravely blocked Israeli warplanes and downed an F-16,” Hezbollah added. “[The Syrian response marks] a decisive end to old arrangements.”