IDF: Iran hoped to change rules of engagement with Golan missile strike

Iran’s missile fired into northern Israel on Sunday was meant “to send a message,” the IDF says.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that Sunday’s missile attack on Israel’s north, launched by Iranians on Syrian territory, was the first time Iran had fired a missile with such a payload at Israel. And it was planned aforethought.

“We understand that the Iranians are trying to change the context and deter us from our policy and our strategy of fighting Iranian troops in Syria,” Lt. Col. Conricus said. “They thought they could change the rules of engagement. Our response was a rather clear one, with a message to Iran and Syria that our policies have not changed.”

Israel’s Iron Dome Aerial Defense System shot down the surface-to-surface rocket before it entered Israeli airspace in the area of the Hermon ski resort on the Golan Heights.

IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said that the attack was intended to ‘send a message’ to Israel. Iran’s missile launch at the Golan Heights targeted civilians, he said, representing a potentially serious escalation in the Islamic Republic’s attacks on the Jewish state.

“Iran is exploiting Syria for their own activities,” Manelis said, adding that the Mullah-led country is “endangering the State of Israel and regional stability.”

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Israeli forces remain on heightened alert in the north although no special safety instructions were given to the civilian population. The only concession to the security situation was the temporary closure Monday of the Mount Hermon resort, which was recently opened to skiers following heavy snowfalls over the last few weeks.

Mount Hermon is the centerpiece of the winter tourism industry in the region and tourism operators are worried that the heightened tension will adversely affect business. The number of visitors this year has broken records, with some 10,000 visitors and skiers taking advantage of the strong snowfall.

However, Micki Inbar, media manager for the ski area, said “There’s plenty of snow here, but our snow days are counting down and we’re afraid that this event will echo in the coming days. The damage isn’t only to the Hermon location, but to all the tourism in the Golan and Galilee, like the hotels and the guest houses.”

Aerial retaliation

IDF warplanes struck several Iranian and Syrian military targets in Syria in the early hours of Monday morning in response to Iran’s attempt to hit Israel with the medium-range missile on Sunday.

There were conflicting reports as to how many people were killed in the Israeli raid. Through its state news agency, Iran denied experiencing any casualties, but the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 11 were killed, including two Syrians. Russia said that at least four of its soldiers had been killed.

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Monday’s attack targeted an Iranian intelligence site, munitions depots, training camp and warehouses at the Damascus airport, Brig. Gen. Manelis tweeted.

He added that Israel had passed a message to Syria that it would only strike Iranian targets if Damascus would hold its fire during the strike.

However, when Syrian anti-aircraft batteries launched dozens of missiles in a failed attempt to fend off the attack, Israeli Air Force jets hit them as well.