Hours after Israel and Iran exchanged a barrage of missiles and airstrikes; Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the IDF had hit almost all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria.
The Israeli Defense Forces has released a video showing the destruction of a Syrian Pantsir-S1 short to medium range air defense system during the last night encounter.
In addition, the Iranian launcher from which the Grad rockets and Fajr-5 missiles were fired at Israel was also destroyed overnight.
Syria’s SANA state news agency reported that regime air defenses “managed with high efficiency to intercept and destroy a large part of the Israeli missiles,” adding that only three people were killed and two injured in the Israeli strikes which destroyed a radar station and an ammunition depot.
According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis the Israeli retaliation was “one of the greatest operations of the Israel Air Force in the past decade,” adding that Russia was informed ahead of the strikes.
The rocket was reportedly aimed at the following Israeli targets:
A HQ of the border brigade 9900
A HQ of the border brigade 810
A technical and electronic survey facility
A HQ of the EW jamming facility
A communication and transmission facility
A helicopters airfield
An outpost at Hermon Mount
Alpinist unit HQ
The 28 F-16 and F-15 jets participating in the operation were met with heavy anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian regime; in return, five Syrian air-defense batteries were destroyed by Israel.
Incoming-rocket sirens were activated a little after midnight in the northern Golan Heights communities of Majdal Shams, Neveh Ativ, Nimrod, Mas’ada, Bukata, Odem and El Rom.
There were no injuries or damage from the barrage since no projectile landed inside Israel, the army said, adding that four missiles had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system which had been deployed in the north.
A senior Iranian cleric threatened on Friday to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa if Israel acts “foolishly”.
“We will expand our missile capabilities despite western pressure (to curb it) …. to let Israel know that if it acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally destroyed,” hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami said during Friday prayers at Tehran University, according to Reuters.
According to Lebanon’s National News Agency, one surface-to-surface missile landed near the town of al-Hibbariyeh while Lebanon’s LBCI TV reported that another missile had landed in the Bekaa town of Qab Elias near a Syrian refugee camp.
“The IDF has been engaged in a wide-scale disruption operation against an attempt by the Quds Force to carry out an offensive against Israel,” Manelis said on a call with reporters on Thursday. “We have operated several times against Iran and have succeeded in preventing a number of terror attacks and Iranian strikes in the past month.
“The Iranian attack on Israel tonight is yet another clear proof of the intention behind the Iranian forces’ entrenchment in Syria and the danger they pose to Israel and regional stability,” the IDF stated, adding that “the IDF will continue to act decisively against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.”
The military stated that even though Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is directly behind the attack, the Syrian regime is responsible for what happens in its territory and warned it against acting against the IDF.
“Tonight reflects what we are preparing for the future. The Quds Force chose to act against the State of Israel in the wrong place. We won’t accept an Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the Quds Force has paid a very heavy price,” Manelis said.
“The IDF is highly prepared for a variety of scenarios and will continue to act as necessary for the safety of Israeli citizens,” the army said, stressing that residents in Israel should continue their routine and that schools and farming can function as usual.
Following the missile barrage all roads in the Golan Heights were closed to traffic.
Israel had been preparing for a direct attack from the Quds force since mid-April, in response to a strike allegedly carried out by the Jewish state against an Iranian-operated airbase in Syria which killed seven IRGC soldiers.
“This was an Iranian event which was a very significant event and it will not be tolerated,” Manelis said after the rockets were launched, adding that there would be an IDF response. Pro-Syrian regime news outlet Al-Mayadeen reported that any further strikes will be met by “larger” attacks on Israel.
On Tuesday night the military instructed local governments to open bomb shelters for residents of the Golan Heights, following the identification of “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria.”
The army has raised preparedness of “troops for an attack” and deployed air defenses in several locations in the north of the country.
The Jerusalem Post visited the area earlier on Wednesday and witnessed a heavy and visible police presence on highways leading up to northern Israel, with IDF vehicles blocking access to all roads north of Route 98 in the Golan Heights.
While some bomb shelters in the area were opened prior to Tuesday’s announcement, the significant change witnessed by the military led to the decision for authorities to open all bomb shelters and to inform residents of the increased tension in the area.
Russia’s defense ministry said earlier on Thursday that Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 60 missiles fired.
The Iranian rocket attack on Israel which preceded Israel’s retaliation was widely condemned around the world.
Khatami’s threats follow comments by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.
“Israel has entered a dangerous game,” Boroujerdi said during a visit to the Portuguese capital Lisbon.
He claimed that the main purpose of these attacks, supported by the United States, is “to divert public opinion from the behavior of the American president (and) his decision to leave the [2015 nuclear] agreement.”