The Israel Air Force hadn’t lost a fighter jet to enemy fire in 34 years, until Saturday, when Iranian and Syrian forces downed an Israeli F-16 over the Galilee.
The plane in question was part of a strike force on a retaliatory mission into Syria after an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace during the early morning hours.
The drone was promptly shot down, and then a squadron of Israeli fighters entered Syria to destroy the command center from which the infiltrator had been remotely piloted.
The Israeli planes faced overwhelming anti-aircraft fire. The downed F-16 was hit either directly by an Iranian-supplied Syrian missile, or by shrapnel resulting from an explosive anti-aircraft shell.
Either way, the injured pilots managed to return to Israeli airspace before crashing near a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley.
That sparked a full day of devastating Israeli aerial assaults on Iranian and Syrian military installations.
According to IDF officials, four Iranian and eight Syrian bases were hit, including Syria’s main command and control bunker.
Many of those installations were covert in nature.
“They, and we, know what we hit and it will take them some time to digest, understand, and ask how Israel knew how to hit those sites,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Army Radio. “These were concealed sites and we have intelligence agencies and the ability to know everything that is going on there and yesterday we proved that.”
In addition to the demoralizing effect of destroying secret bases, Israel also reportedly did significant damage to Syria’s air defenses.
Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar told reporters that Saturday’s bombings constituted “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defenses since Operation Peace for the Galilee” – Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon to halt incessant PLO terrorist attacks.
Unsurprisingly, Saturday’s aerial assault on Syria won the support of the Trump Administration in Washington.
“Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria,” read a statement released by US President Donald Trump.
“We call on Iran and its allies to cease provocative actions and work toward regional peace,” the White House added.
Originally posted at Israel Today.