Die Welt: Israel in the run-up to next war
The Israeli fighter jet was attacked during the operation in Syria and subsequently crashed in Israel. The F-16 jet was shot down after hitting "Iranian targets". The fireball rushed through the sky before the mountains of Galilee were rocked by an explosion. One of the eyewitnesses in Israel described the worst escalation on the Israeli-Syrian border in many years. During the operation, the Israeli F-16I fighter jet was apparently hit deep inside Syrian territory.
This first incident of an Israeli fighter being shot down over Syria occurred only a few days after the symbolic meeting demonstratively held by the Israeli government in the north of the country. It was a warning to Syria, the Lebanese group Hezbollah and, above all, to Iran supporting it. For many weeks, the potential for an escalation has increased significantly.
The reason lies in Iran's attempts to modernize the huge Hezbollah missile arsenal and establish a military presence in Syria along the Israeli border. In addition, after recent military success Syrian President Bashar Assad probably felt so confident that he no longer fears direct confrontation with Israel. In this regard, some experts expressed fear that these events could lead to a new war.
At four o'clock in the morning sirens wailed out in the Israeli north. According to reports, latest unknown type of Iranian UAV penetrated Israel's airspace from Syria. An Israeli attack helicopter shoot down the Iranian drone. Tehran denies its participation in the incident. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli Air Force responded the "severe violation of Israeli sovereignty." Four bombers attacked Iranian targets in the depths of the Syrian territory, that supposedly launched the drone.
Presumably, Syria's anti-aircraft defense reacted by launching dozens of missiles. Some of them struck in Israel. At least one of them hit the target. According to the Israeli army official, the jet was hit by a Syrian missile already in Israeli airspace.
For the first time in many years, an Israeli attack aircraft was shot down. According to the army's representative, two pilots abandoned the aircraft, one of them was seriously wounded. In the late morning hours, the Israeli air force attacked 12 more targets in Syria - according to Israel, it was the most serious Israeli engagement in Syria since 1982. At the same time, according to Israel Defense Forces, air defense facilities and four military posts of the Iranian army were destroyed.
For many years, Israel and Iran have been engaged in a "representative war" and a war of special services. The Islamic Republic has deployed more than 100,000 rockets to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, as well as has supplied the radical Palestinian Islamic organization Hamas with weapons and money. Jerusalem fears that the Iranian nuclear program ultimately aims to destroy Israel. In Syria, this shadow war manifested itself after the 2011 Civil War.
Iran wanted to use the protests in the country to massively continue modernizing Hezbollah, presumably even by supplying the group with poison gas, in order to neutralize the strategic advantage of Israel. To prevent this from happening, the Israeli air force attacked Syria more than 100 times. The targets were mainly armed convoys on the way to Lebanon or the camps with strategic weapons stored for Hezbollah.
Last week, it was the second time in the last few weeks, when Israel attacked the Syrian army's research facility near Damascus.
Until recently, the Syrian government tolerated these attacks. President Bashar Assad fought for his survival in the civil war and was not interested in opening a new front with Israel, whose army is stronger. But after considerable military successes in the Syrian civil war, Tehran and Damascus want to change the "rules of the game" on the border in their favor.
Syria's air force is increasingly reacting to Israeli air strikes. Iran's attempt to penetrate deeply into Israeli territory with the help of drones shows that the regime is expanding its military presence on the borders of Israel. A spokesperson for the Israeli army in an interview with the Arab media last month warned that Tehran is building secret weapons factories in Lebanon to build strategic missiles. Jerusalem will not accept this and will attack Lebanon in the case of an emergency, the military said.
At the same time, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin a few days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that he would not allow Iran to gain a foothold in Syria and asked Moscow to help Tel Aviv. Russia, along with Iran, is the most important ally of Bashar Assad.
Moscow, in turn, urged the conflicting sides not to aggravate the situation and respect the sovereignty of Syria. It seems that Putin is not interested in confrontation with the Iranians in order to protect the interests of Israel, although he left the Israeli Air Force some freedom in Syria, despite the fact that the Russian air defense systems are deployed in the country.
Neither Israel, nor Hezbollah, nor Syria, nor Iran are currently interested in war. But without the intervention of such superpowers as Russia or the United States, the danger of direct confrontation between Jerusalem and Tehran is increasing.