The IAF destroyed a Syrian launcher that fired an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli plane, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Monday night, stressing that Israel will not tolerate any aggression against it.
“A short time ago, the Syrian army tried to hit an Israeli plane, it did not succeed,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. “The air force in response destroyed the launcher from which it [the missile] was fired. Our policy is clear: we will not tolerate any aggression against us, and we will respond to it with force and firmness.”
Netanyahu’s message came just two hours after he spoke to cameras live about the current political crisis stemming from his inability to form a coalition, just 48 hours before the deadline to do so expires.
The IDF spokesman said the Syrian missile did not hit the Israeli aircraft, which was conducting a routine flight over northern Israel, and fell within Syrian territory. The mission was completed as planned, the IDF said.
Arab media, meanwhile, reported on air strikes near Quneitra.
Syria’s SANA reported that “a military source confirmed that at 2110 hours the Israeli enemy targeted one of our military positions east of Khan Arnabeh in rural Quneitra.”
The source explained that the aggression resulted in the “martyr’s death and wounding another fighter.”
According to Syrian media, the strike took place near Khan Arnabeh, which is very close to the Golan border.
The attempt represents an escalation on the Syrian side. It is not the first time that Syria anti-aircraft missiles have targeted Israel, nor the first time they have been detected heading toward Israeli airspace.
In January, Iron Dome was activated on Mount Hermon to intercept a rocket. In December 2018, a Syrian anti-aircraft missile was fired toward Israel from Syria. In November of 2018, fragments of a Syrian rocket were found in the Golan. An F-16 crashed in the Galilee after being targeted by Syrian air-defense in October 2018. Rockets from Syria fell inside Israeli territory in July 2018.
David’s Sling was used operationally for the first time that month to defend against the rockets. In March 2017, Israel used its Arrow defense system against Syrian air defense.
In late March, Syrian media claimed Israel attacked a site near Aleppo and on April 13 and May 18, Syrian state media made similar claims.
Israel said last year that it had struck hundreds of targets in Syria, primarily Iranian targets related to weapons shipments. In January, former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot told The New York Times that Israel had struck thousands of targets in Syria.
But for Syria to target a routine patrol inside Israel is unusual. Syria is already embroiled in new air raids in Idlib against Syrian rebels and the US and Iran are involved in major tensions in the region.