The Syrian government warned Israel on Tuesday that it faced “more surprises” in future attacks on Syrian territory, after Syrian missiles downed an Israeli fighter jet responding to Iranian provocations over the weekend.
On Saturday, an Iranian drone which invaded Israeli airspace was shot down by Israeli fighter jets. The IAF responded to the incursion by targeting the command center near Damascus where the drone was operated.
During the airstrikes, Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries fired dozens of anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets. One jet was damaged by a Syrian missile, forcing the pilot and navigator to eject after they crossed back into Israeli airspace.
The plane crashed in northern Israel, but the two crew members were recovered by search and rescue teams and evacuated for medical treatment.
On Tuesday, Syria’s assistant foreign minister Ayman Sussan said during a Damascus news conference, “Have full confidence the aggressor will be greatly surprised because it thought this war – this war of attrition Syria has been exposed to for years – had made it incapable of confronting attacks.”
“God-willing they will see more surprises whenever they try to attack Syria,” he said, according to Reuters.
Responding to the incident on Saturday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had said that Israel would do “whatever is necessary” to protect its sovereignty.
“Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.”
“Israel wants peace but we will continue to defend ourselves with determination against any attack on us and against any attempt by Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria or anywhere else,” he added.
Speaking in northern Israel on Tuesday morning, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel is not limited in the possibilities of its response to provocations from the Syrian side. “We manage things with determination and responsibility, there are no restrictions and we do not accept any restrictions,” Liberman said.
He added, “We acted resolutely and we must understand that every step we take here is preceded by a great deal of work. Everything must be done in a precise, planned, calculated manner. We will respond to every provocation, we will continue to protect our vital security interests and [our interests] in general. To paraphrase the known saying, ‘This is not the time to bark, it’s time to bite’ – and we’ll bite hard. I hope we won’t have to do so.”