IDF delegation returns from Moscow after Northern Shield, Syria talks

Israel's military says meeting with senior Russian officers discussed Lebanon and Syria

December 12, 2018 17:40
2 minute read.
Israeli and Russian delegation meeting in Moscow

Israeli and Russian delegation meeting in Moscow. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)


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An IDF delegation returned to Israel from Moscow on Wednesday night following a working meeting between senior leaders of the two militaries regarding Israel’s Operation Northern Shield.

The delegation of senior IDF officers led by the head of the IDF’s Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva departed for Moscow on Tuesday to brief their Russian counterparts on details of the tunnel-searching operation, as well as other operational issues including improving the deconfliction mechanism between the two countries in the skies over Syria.

The IDF underlined to the Russia military officers that Israel will continue to operate against the entrenchment of Iran and its Shi’ite proxies north of its borders, as well as the ongoing arms transfers to Hezbollah.

Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and stressed “once more, Israel’s policy aimed at preventing Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and at acting against Iran and Hezbollah’s aggression.”

Israel frequently carries out air strikes against Iran and its allies in Syria, in an effort to prevent sophisticated weaponry from reaching Hezbollah.

The relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow has been strained since a Russian military plane with 15 servicemen on board was downed by Syrian air defenses in mid-September following an Israeli air strike on nearby Iranian targets. But according to the statement released by the IDF, the meeting on Wednesday between the senior officers “was conducted in a good and professional atmosphere.”

Moscow has laid the blame for the incident solely on Israel, saying that Israeli Air Force jets used the plane to shield themselves from Syrian anti-aircraft systems and that Jerusalem failed to notify Moscow of its aerial movements by the agreed deconfliction mechanism.

The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield last week in order to detect and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Iranian-backed Shi’ite organization. It has so far announced the discovery of three tunnels which have infiltrated into northern Israel: one outside the community of Metulla and the other two in locations which cannot be disclosed.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu warned Hezbollah of harsh Israeli responses if the terrorist group carries out an attack on its troops or civilians.

“If Hezbollah makes the serious mistake of attacking us or confronting what we are doing now, it will face unimaginable blows” in retaliation, he said during a visit to northern Israel. “We will pursue this operation as long as the threat of Hezbollah tunnels persists.”

While the military has stressed that none of the tunnels pose imminent threats to residents, dozens of Hezbollah tunnels are believed to have been dug along the 130 kilometer border between Israel and Lebanon.

Operation Northern Shield is expected to take several months to complete. 

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