Syria and Israel have ongoing conflicts with adjacent countries, but rarely with each other. Now, however, this seems to be changing.
The two countries engaged in a rare military exchange on Friday when Syria fired missiles at Israeli warplanes. Syria fired the missiles after four Israeli planes struck military targets in Syria near Palmyra. The planes attempted to destroy weapons that militants were delivering to the Lebanese radical group Hezbollah. The radical group is fighting alongside Syria’s government in the country’s civil war.
Yisrael Katz, Israel’s intelligence minister, said that the Israeli message is clear regarding the radical group.
“We will not be complacent with a Syrian policy that arms Hezbollah,” he said. “The fact that the incident developed into a situation where Israel claimed responsibility and the Syrians responded is significant.”
Syria launched the missiles in the Israeli-controlled airspace. Accordingly, the Israeli aerial defense systems stopped one of the missiles. Additionally, Syrian officials claim they shot down of the planes and damaged another. However, Israeli officials deny this claim. They did not elaborate if the other missiles struck Israel’s territory, although they said civilian safety was “not compromised.”
Many believe this was only the most recent of Israel’s numerous airstrikes against Syrian weapons systems. They conducted previous attacks against Russian-made and Iranian-made missiles. Despite Israel’s rare comments on the matter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel does stand a firm position on the matter.
“Our policy is very consistent,” he said. “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to the Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and the operational capability, we act to prevent that. That is what was and that is what will be.”
People created Hezbollah, a radical Shi’a group, to fight against Israel and western imperialism in Lebanon. They have conducted numerous terrorist attacks in the Middle East since the ‘80s.
Israel’s vendetta against Hezbollah became prevalent in 2006 after Hezbollah operators killed three and abducted two Israeli soldiers. Afterward, Israel struck Lebanon, the origin of the radical group, causing an ongoing battle between the two.
Originally, many people considered Hezbollah local heroes after Israel carried out numerous attacks that killed civilians. However, Hezbollah slowly radicalized further, and now, 96 percent of Egyptians and 86 percent of Jordanians, just to name a few locales, believe Hezbollah is a large factor in the negative spread of radical militants.
Regarding Syria, Hezbollah militants explain their ties to Syria’s government as an obligation. According to militant officials, the Syrian president previously supported the group’s endeavors, and Hezbollah wants to continue that relationship and regain power in the area.