Israel Believes Round of Hostilities With Iran and Syria Is Over, but Another Is All but Inevitable

Based on statements by Iranian officials, Iran has achieved all it could in the current round and is now looking to deter Israel from striking Syria again

Explosions in Syria amid escalation with Israel, February 10, 2018
Gil Eliahu

Israel's security establishment believes the current round of fighting with Iran and Syria in the north – during which Israel stuck targets in Syria and an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down – has all but come to an end. The widely agreed upon assessment is that the sides have achieved all they could in the current round.

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However, Israel also believes that in the long run, another clash with the Iranians in Syria is almost inevitable.

These assessments rely, among other things, on statements made by senior Iranian figures in the past 24 hours. Iran and Syria are looking to "strategically leverage" the unusual achievement of shooting down the plane, through public declaration about having changed the rules of the game in the north and threatening a severe response to any additional Israeli attacks in Syria or Lebanon.  

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While Saturday's day of fighting began with the downing of an Iranian drone by the Israel Air Force after it entered Israeli airspace, most of the strikes over the past several years were – according to Arabic-language media - aimed at arms depots and weapon shipments ultimately meant for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran and Syria are trying to deter Israel from further aerial strikes by threatening to respond with anti-aircraft fire and a deliberate escalation as a reaction to any future Israeli action. 

Israeli military attacks the drone's command and control vehicle

Local authorities in the Golan Heights and in the Galilee were instructed by the Israeli army to return to their normal routine. On Sunday, local situation rooms returned to normal after a day of high alert.

The Israeli military said it shot down an Iranian drone on Saturday that infiltrated the country and struck the Iranian site from which it was launched. Syrian air-defense missiles hit an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, prompting the pilots to eject. Following the downing of the jet, Israel carried out what an Air Force general said was the "largest and most significant" strike in Syria since 1982.

VIDEO: Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashes after shot down by Syrian missiles