Syria threatens retaliatory strike on Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport

Syria’s U.N. diplomat drew a parallel between Israel’s attacks on Damascus airport and potentially striking Ben Gurion airport.

By David Jablinowitz, World Jewish News 

Syria is threatening to strike Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israel Air Force attacks on what the IDF says were military targets at Damascus International Airport as well as elsewhere in the country.

The warning was leveled by Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja’afari  on Tuesday at the U.N. Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East.

Syrian state news agency SANA quoted Ja’afari as saying that if the Security Council did not pass measures to stop Israel, “Syria would practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport.”

When the Syrian war erupted in 2011, Israel stated that its policy was to stay out of the conflict unless actions were hostile to the Jewish state, including the transfer of arms to Iranian proxy Hezbollah. As indications grew that Iran was exploiting the void left by the Syrian turmoil to build its own presence in the country, Israel vowed to act against Tehran’s entrenchment there.

Since then, Israel has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets, and more recently started speaking more publicly about it. Those making proclamations in this regard have included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s former military chief Gadi Eisenkot.

The latest escalation is seen as the most serious in many months. After the rare daytime Israeli strike on Damascus airport on Sunday morning, an Iranian-made surface-to-surface missile was fired from Syria into the Israeli side of the Golan Heights with the reported involvement of the Iranian Quds Force. The IDF’s Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted the rocket.

That response was seen as a step up in the violence because earlier reprisals had been limited to fire on Israeli air force jets. As a result, Israel fired back with the most recent attack.

The IDF spokesman said that the targets hit included Syrian-operated air defense systems and Iranian munitions depots, an intelligence site, and an Iranian-operated military training camp.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 21 people were killed in the latest Israeli strike, including 12 Iranians.

“Isn’t it high time for this council to take the necessary measures to stop the repeated Israeli aggression against the territories of my country?” asked the Syrian U.N. ambassador. “Or should we attract the attention of the war makers in this council by exercising our legitimate right to self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression against the Damascus international civil airport by launching an aggression against the Tel Aviv airport?”

Ja’afari also said that Syria would act to restore control over the Golan Heights captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

“Restoring the occupied Syrian Golan by all means possible… is a principled right for the Syrian Arab Republic,” Ja’afari said. “It is not subject to negotiation,” he added.