Israel’s shadow war with Iran escalates in Syria with attacks, drone interception


JERUSALEM – Israel’s low-intensity conflict with Iran and its proxies in Syria escalated last week. Israel was suspected of carrying out three airstrikes on Iranian targets inside Syria within four days, and on Sunday, the Israeli army shot down an object coming from Syria through its northern border.

Ynet reported Monday that the downed drone on Israel’s northern border was electronically intercepted, not by a missile or an unmanned aerial vehicle. The drone entered Israeli territory from Syria, apparently in response to increased airstrikes attributed to Israel recently. The IDF is now analyzing the remains of the drone to determine if it was made in Iran.

This incident is just the latest in a series of escalations for Israel and Syria. Syrian government media counted seven Israeli raids in the past month and nine since the beginning of the year.

According to reports in Syria, the latest Israeli attack targeted a military airport used by the Iran-linked Hezbollah organization for training and weapons testing in Syria’s central Homs region. Five Syrians were said to have been injured. On Friday, an alleged Israeli airstrike struck a Damascus suburb of a weapons depot reportedly used by Iran, killing two Iranian military advisers, according to Syrian and Iranian state news outlets.

Israel does not officially comment on its activities in Syria, but the targeting of the Hezbollah compound on Sunday indicated that the attack was linked to the March 13 bomb explosion in north-central Israel that injured an Israeli driver. Israel says the explosives were planted by a militant who infiltrated its territory from Lebanon and made its way to the Megiddo junction. The militant was located and killed by special forces on his way back to the Lebanese border. Israel refrained from pointing the finger directly at Hezbollah, settling for a general statement that Hezbollah’s involvement was “being investigated.”

The unusual attack from Lebanon and the relative ease with which he crossed the border fence and entered the heart of Israel has raised tensions in northern Israel and prompted a series of security consultations.

Israel sought to respond to the attack without being drawn into a broad escalation with Hezbollah. A direct Israeli attack on the Shiite group in Lebanon would likely provoke unwanted retaliation and confrontation. Israel’s apparent decision to attack Hezbollah and Iranian targets on Syrian soil seems to have served this purpose, which raised a heavy price for the attack but did not immediately bring it to a close.

The drone sent into Israel could also be linked to threats from Iran to avenge the killing of two advisers in Syria. Over the weekend, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) initially said one of its officers – Milad Heidari – had been killed in Friday’s attack. On Sunday, the IRGC said another officer – Captain Meqdad Mahqani Jafarabadi – was killed in the attack. Jafarabadi was serving as a military adviser in Syria, according to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency.

The flying object that enters Israeli-Iranian airspace continues to threaten the death of IRGC officers. Following the news of Jafarabadi’s death, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that “the blood of these noble martyrs will not be wasted”.

Although the drone was intercepted and caused no damage, Israel is unlikely to ignore it. According to Israeli security sources, the drone strike amid ongoing Iranian tensions in Syria is a sign of Tehran’s growing self-confidence as it notes the internal rift in Israel over a proposed government judicial overhaul. Iran, according to these sources, seems to see the domestic divisions affecting the military as an opportunity to challenge Israel, and tensions in the Israeli-American relationship could also be part of it. with the judicial blitz.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected this assumption. “The internal argument in Israel will not harm and will not harm our determination or our intensity or our ability to act against our enemies,” he said on Sunday. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, visiting the troops later in the day, said, “We will not let the Iranians or Hezbollah harm us.”

Gallant’s position is unclear, however, and is a source of tension within the military and other security agencies already on heightened alert over Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the West Bank and unrest at holy sites in east Jerusalem as Muslims celebrate the the month of Ramadan. . Ten days ago, Netanyahu announced that he was firing Gallant because of his public statement urging a halt to the legislative overhaul, but he has not yet delivered an official letter of termination, presumably because he was worried about the likely outcome. . It has been reported that negotiations are underway regarding the wording of an apology for Gallant to remain in office.

The IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzl Halevi noted in a special letter to his troops that he would not allow any political or social developments to undermine the army’s mission.

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