Israel-Russia relations in jeopardy as Moscow again condemns Israel for attacking Syria

For the second time in three weeks, Moscow calls Israeli airstrikes against terror targets in Syria “unacceptable,” and demands that they cease.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israeli-Russian relations are spiraling downward as Moscow condemned Israel Monday for the second time in three weeks for its alleged attack on Syrian installations, demanding that they stop immediately.

“The recurrence of Israeli attacks in Syria is completely unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement. “We strongly condemn such irresponsible actions that violate Syria’s sovereignty and the basic norms of international law, and we demand their unconditional cessation.”

On Saturday, Syrian media said that two Israeli jets launched missiles while over the Mediterranean Sea at a town near the Tartus port, heavily damaging “poultry farms“ and wounding two civilians, one of them a woman.

The UK-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the early morning attack hit “former animal sheds used by the Lebanese Hezbollah to transport weapons.” Lebanon is only some 25 kilometers from the targeted area.

Several strong explosions were heard in the aftermath of the attack, it reported, which would signal that there were more dangerous items there than eggs or chickens.

Jerusalem has not confirmed that it was responsible for the airstrikes, as per its usual policy during its “war between the wars” to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria and strengthening of Tehran’s proxy forces in Lebanon.

In general, since Tartus is Russia’s only naval port in the Mediterranean, Israel has been careful to stay away from it when attacking Iran’s proxies in the country.

The proximity to its crucial military installation may have instigated the Russians’ harsh statement, but Moscow has recently increased its criticism of Israeli actions in the country that President Vladimir Putin has been supporting with boots on the ground since 2015.

A June 9 airstrike widely attributed to Israel damaged the Damascus International Airport’s two runways and destroyed Iranian weapon storage facilities based in old terminals.

After Israel allegedly cratered the Damascus International Airport’s two runways June 9th and destroyed Iranian weapons storage sites based in old terminals there.

The airstrike came on the heels of accusations that Iran was smuggling missile components to Hezbollah through Syria on civilian flights.

Russia went even further than sharply condemning the attack. Israel’s Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for a dressing-down, and it was announced afterward that “the justification received from the Israeli side regarding the strike … was unconvincing.”

A week later, Russia reportedly began preparing preparing a resolution to formally condemn Israel at the United Nations Security Council over its airstrike, which ended up closing down the airport for two weeks for repairs.

But the resolution was never introduced. Analysts said Russia was trying to deflect attention from its own destruction of Ukrainian airports and would likely have suffered the embarrassment of its resolution not getting enough votes in the 15-seat Security Council.

Saturday’s strike on Tartus was the first under the watch of newly-installed Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who has held firm to the anti-Iranian Israeli line.

While not admitting that the airstrike affected its proxy force, Tehran slammed the attack.

“Iran condemns the Zionist aggression in South Tartus,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, who went on to claim that “The Zionist entity is trying, through its attacks, to portray Damascus as an unsafe city to thwart the return of Syrian immigrants.”