It’s been an “interesting” day

We remember being told about an ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”. Well, that is what the past day has been. It seems it all started around dawn when an Iranian drone aircraft took off from a Syrian airbase. The UAV flew over Jordan and turned to cross into Israeli air space. The Israeli Air Force was tracking it and an attack helicopter was airborne and sent to intercept it. The helo shot the drone down with gunfire.

The next stage was an Israeli response. Israeli Air Force flights were dispatched to attack the launch site. They apparently blew up the control van, and maybe more. The Syrian Air Defense system, equipped with Russian made weaponry, opposed the incursion.  One Israeli plane, a two seat version of the American made F-16, was damaged. It later crashed inside Israel. The 2 man crew ejected safely and were taken to hospital after reaching the ground. One was reported as slightly injured, the other man’s condition was described as serious. Several Syrian anti-aircraft missiles that failed to hit their targets came down on both sides of the Israeli-Syrian border. More Israeli aircraft were sent in response. The Israeli spokesman said they attacked 12 separate targets, including some around Damascus. Commercial air traffic in and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion airport was halted briefly, and then quickly resumed.

The whole affair looks like a short spasm of violence provoked by Iran. It may have even been an entrapment designed to engage the predictable Israeli response. Neither side seems to be moving toward a wider conflict. Inside Israel life went on as usual. No shelters were opened an no sirens sounded. Syrian TV featured the action with commentary praising their armed forces, and carefully omitting any mention of damage or casualties. Iran has, so far, denied any involvement. Russia issued a mild statement asking Iran and Israel to both refrain from violating Syrian sovereignty. The Russians provide most of the weaponry used on the Syrian side. There are commentators in Israel who don’t believe that this scenario could have been carried out without Russian approval. I’m not sure about that, but it does provide room for speculation after the US appeared to have been maneuvered into a position of supporting the losing side in the Syrian Civil War. One item not mentioned in most of the reports is that the civil war claimed over 200 more victims in internecine combat today. As a final irony, I have to note that the injured Israeli aviator was treated in Haifa and at least one of his primary care doctors is an Israeli Arab.

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