With new clashes in Syria deemed likely, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz warns that Israel will teach Iran a lesson it won’t forget.
By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
The Israeli security assessment following Saturday’s aerial clashes in Syria is that the current round of clashes are over, but the next confrontation is only a matter of time. Officials are also saying that Israel is already planning its response to future Iranian aggression and the Israeli response “will teach Iran a lesson it will not forget.”
Iran sparked the weekend fighting by dispatching a sophisticated Syrian-based drone into Israeli air space near the Jordanian border. The UAV was quickly shot down by an Israeli helicopter. Israel responded to the incursion with a series of air force reprisal raids against military positions, including the Iranian-run command center controlling the drone. During one of the raids, an Israeli F-16 was hit and downed by Syrian Russian-built anti-aircraft. Both Israeli airmen successfully ejected from the plane.
The official Israeli assessment is that Saturday’s incident is not the last time that Israel and Iran will directly square off in Syria, and the next round could be very soon. Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told a Saudi newspaper, “If Iran keeps threatening and carrying out offensive activities against Israel from Syria, we’ll teach it a lesson it will never forget.”
Katz went on to warn Iran and Syria that the next round could be very costly. “Israel isn’t interested in an escalation, but it will keep protecting its red lines and won’t allow Iranian entrenchment in Syria, violations of Israeli sovereignty, or the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Katz said.
Prof. Ephraim Inbar, head of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies told World Israel News (WIN), “We should take seriously that Iran is eager to have another round. Our warnings following Saturday’s clash were strong, but intentionally vague because we can see many possible scenarios. The likelihood of another clash is high because nothing has changed on the ground, and Iran remains fully committed to taking over and controlling all of Syria and the rest of the Middle East as well.”
Brig.-Gen Yosef Cooperwasser would not disclose operational options Israel has at its disposal. Cooperwasser told WIN, “We may respond more aggressively next time around. We made it clear that we have red lines but we cannot give away what our response may be.”
Off the record, analysts say that Israel could plan a large-scale offensive designed to physically limit the Assad regimes ability to fire anti-aircraft at Israeli jets in the future, and demonstrate to the Syrians and the Iranians what a full scale Israeli aerial assault can do to their militaries.”
Iranian affairs expert Meir Javedanfar from the IDC told WIN, “Iran is very pleased with the downing of the F16 fighter jet by Syrian anti-aircraft. Some of the hardliners are using the incident to boost the image of Hezbollah by saying there are new rules of engagement regarding Syria, and that Israel will be increasingly deterred. Iran believes that its ‘Syria strategy’ is working because while Israel is fighting on its own border, Iran is able to directly confront Israel in Syria, far from the Iranian border.”