Israel Deals 'Severe Blows' to Iranian Forces After Israeli F-16 Shot Down
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel's Security Cabinet is considering more options after the most significant conflict with Syria and Iran in years. The incident represented a dramatic escalation with Iran and Syria and sparked talks of war in the Middle East.
"Yesterday we dealt severe blows to the Iranian and Syrian forces," Netanyahu told cabinet ministers at the start of the week. "We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of action have not changed one bit. We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us. This has been our policy and it will remain our policy."
The incident began when Syria sent an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into Israeli airspace, which an Israeli spokesman called a "severe violation of Israeli sovereignty."
Israel destroyed the drone and then countered with an airstrike on the command center that launched it.
During Israel's attack, Syria launched at least 20 anti-aircraft missiles and downed an F-16. It marked the first time in more than 30 years that an Israeli plane was shot down by enemy fire. The pilot suffered serious wounds and was airlifted to a hospital, where he was later reported in stable condition. The navigator sustained light injuries and was released later in the day.
Israel launched a second large-scale attack, striking 12 targets inside Syria, including four Iranian installations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized his warnings about Iran.
"I've been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran's military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. … our warnings were 100 percent correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian host responsible for today's aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security."
Israeli Minister Yoav Galant, former head of the IDF's southern command, said, "We do not just talk, we act. There will not be an infiltration of a manned or unmanned plane into the Israel's territory without retaliation. Those sending it [plane] are taking a risk and I think that also the Syrians now understand well that the fact they are hosting the Iranians on Syrian soil, harms them."
After the incident, The US State Department said, "Iran's ambition to project its power and dominance places all people of the region…at risk. The US…calls for an end to Iranian behavior that threatens peace and stability."
The US Department of Defense said, "Israel is our closest security partner in the region, and we fully support Israel's inherent right to defend itself against threats to its territory and its people."
In Tehran, hundreds of thousands of Iranians celebrated the 39th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. They shouted, "Death to Israel and death to the US" as the government displayed a number of its ballistic missiles.
One Israeli expert said Iran is determined to build Syria into an Iranian military base, while Israel is determined to stop it.
Former IDF intelligence officer Marco Merano told CBN News Iran represents the greatest danger in the Middle East.
"There's been talk that Iran wants to have a land bridge from Iran all the way to the Mediterranean, including Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. How close are they to establishing that in Syria?" CBN News asked him.
"They own Lebanon. Iraq, it's on its way. Syria, not yet, but it will happen," Merano explained. "It's a strategic decision that the Iranian took to open a front with us in the Golan Heights. They have it in Lebanon and they have it in Gaza. They have some in the West Bank with the several terrorist organizations and now they are trying. I think 2018 will be very important for us to deal with this problem."
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