Two Days On, Israel Still Puzzled Why Iran Sent Drone Into Its Airspace

Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar speculates that it may have been intelligence-gathering or attack operation, but adds it’s important Israel find out what the mission’s objective was

Israel shoots down Iranian drone infiltrating Israeli airspace from Syria.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit / Screenshot

Israel Air Force's second in command said Monday that Israel still doesn’t know why Iran sent a drone into Israeli airspace on Saturday.

“I can’t say for certain what its mission was,” said Chief of Air Staff Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar, speaking during a briefing with foreign correspondents. “It could be anything between an intelligence-gathering operation and an attack operation. They may have been trying to test our capabilities and alertness, and the degree to which we protect Israel’s skies.

Israel shoots down Iranian drone infiltrating from Syria.

“It’s very important for us to understand what the objective of the mission was, but I can’t say at this point,” he said.

Bar added that the IAF is still examining the fragments of the Shahed-141 drone intercepted on Saturday morning, but couldn’t confirm whether a weapon or surveillance equipment had been attached to it. He stressed that the drone had been detected and tracked by the IAF before entering Israeli airspace, and was shot down immediately after it was allowed to cross the border near Beit She’an in northern Israel.

Bar also addressed Saturday’s shooting down of an IAF F-16I fighter jet. He said that, according to the initial debriefing, the “leading probability is that the aircraft was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile.”

Remains of the Iranian Shahed-141 drone downed over northern Israel by the Israel Air Force on February 10, 2018.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit

He said the Assad regime has been firing such missiles at Israeli aircraft operating above Syria for two years now, and that despite Israeli media reports to the contrary, the IAF was “not surprised” by the dense salvo of missiles fired at its aircraft on Saturday.