Things are getting hot in the Middle East between regional powers Israel and Iran — could it mean the onset of a large scale war?
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Saturday that his nation would protect itself from “any threat or any attempt to harm its sovereignty” after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that had invaded their airspace.
Israel later launched strikes against 12 targets in Syria which officials claimed were under Iranian control.
“Israel is seeking for peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves against any attack against us, and against any attempt by Iran to establish military bases in Syria or anywhere else,” the prime minister said.
Israel struck 12 targets in Syria on Saturday, including 3 aerial defense positions and 4 targets that the Israelis said were “part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.”
An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was hit during the strikes with “massive” anti-aircraft fire from what appears to be the the Syrian military, according to Israeli news sources, though Israel’s government has not confirmed that it was shot down. Both pilots ejected and one was severely wounded, while the other suffered from minor wounds.
“We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of action have not changed one bit,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said. “We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us. This has been our policy and it will remain our policy.
Our policy is absolutely clear: Israel will defend itself from every attack and from every attempt to harm our sovereignty. Iran made such an attempt today. They violated our sovereignty, they infiltrated a drone into Israel’s territory from Syrian territory.
Netanyahu added that he spoke to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the events of the day, though Russia’s foreign ministry did not respond positively to the strikes.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are in Syria at the invitation of its legitimate government to assist in the fight against terrorists,” Russia’s foreign ministry responded.
But U.S. State Department said in a statement that the United States “strongly supports Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”
The statement continued:
Iran’s calculated escalation of threat and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the region — from Yemen to Lebanon — at risk. The U.S. continues to push back on the totality of Iran’s malign activities in the region and calls for an end to Iranian behavior that threatens peace and stability.
With President Donald Trump in the White House, we are finally standing with Israel. This is how it should be.