The Israeli military struck three Syrian military targets overnight on Wednesday in retaliation for a Syrian drone that infiltrated into northern Israel hours earlier.
“The IDF holds the Syrian regime accountable for the actions carried out in its territory and warns it from further action against Israeli forces,” the IDF said.
Footage released by the military showed missiles hitting a hut, a two-story structure and a five-story structure.
The official Syrian news agency SANA reported that Israeli jets “fired a number of missiles toward some military posts” near the Druze town of Hadar and Tal Kroum Jaba, in the Quneitra countryside, causing only material damage. Another strike by rockets and mortar shells targeted the village of Jaba causing significant damage to the houses.
As Syrian government forces continue to advance in an offensive to retake the strategic Syrian Golan Heights from rebels groups, the IDF has stressed that the 1974 separation of forces agreement between Israel and Syria be upheld and the demilitarized buffer zone along the border be respected.
On Wednesday, a Syrian drone flew 10 km. into Israel before being intercepted by a Patriot missile.
“The aerial defense systems identified the threat and tracked it,” the IDF said, adding that it “will not allow any violation of Israeli airspace and will act against any attempt to hurt its civilians.”
According to Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, , the strikes were a message to the Syrian regime that Jerusalem will not tolerate any violation of the 1974 agreement.
“The agreement is becoming more relevant now that the Syrians are coming back to the border and Israel wants to make a point that they are seen as being responsible to keep the 1974 agreement,” Yadlin said on a call organized by The Israel Project.
According to the army, the drone, which was unarmed, was tracked before it entered Israel. Calls were also made to Russia and Jordan to make sure the drone did not belong to them before shooting it down.
“We carried out a number of checks before the interception and the missile was fired only when the conditions were optimal for it. The aircraft carried out a mission in the Golan Heights, including among our neighbors before it entered Israeli territory. We wanted to know which country it belonged to,” the army said.
The incident came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, his ninth visit this year. Israel is concerned that the Assad regime will allow Iran and its Shi’ite proxy militias and Hezbollah to entrench themselves near Israel’s Golan Heights.
“When a drone comes from Syria these days it could be Syrian, Russian, Iranian, or from Hezbollah,” Yadlin said. “The grand strategy is to remove Iran but in this case Iran wasn’t involved.”
“Israel will not let any cross the border but the significance of who it belongs to is important-Israel doesn’t want to shoot down a Russian drone and that is why there was a 15-minute delay before it was shot down,” he continued.
“When Bibi is landing in Moscow he doesn’t want to have to explain to Putin what happened.”