Israeli Minister Threatens to Strike Syrian S-300s If Israeli Jets Get Hit
An Israeli minister said Monday that Russia’s shipment of S-300 anti-aircraft systems were “a big mistake” and said Israel would target them if Israeli planes are hit in Israeli airspace.
Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s minister of Jerusalem affairs and minister of environmental protection, who is also the co-chair of the Russia-Israel Intergovernmental Commission, said that Israel is ready to attack Syria’s new S-300 air defense systems in the event that they are used to fire on Israeli jets.
“We consider the very fact of shipping S-300 to Syria a big mistake,” Elkin said during a press conference for Russian media Monday. “The Syrian military are not always capable of correctly using the hardware transferred to them. In case of improper operation, civilian aircrafts may be harmed,” he said.
“The Syrians, if they ever want to, might use [these systems] to down an Israeli military or commercial plane over Israeli territory,” he said, “considering the mess that is going on in the Syrian Army. Shipping S-300s might lead to destabilization of the situation.”
He said that Israel will retaliate in the event of an air defense attack, and he partially put the responsibility for any such incident on Russia.
“By shipping these kinds of weapons to Syrians, Russia bears partial responsibility for their use,” Elkin said. “Usually, Israel reacts to attacks on its territory and its aircrafts not through international demarches, but with practical actions. Actions would undoubtedly take place, should [an attack] occur, against the launchers used to attack Israeli territory or Israeli planes.”
“I hope greatly that there would be no Russian military specialists [at S-300 sites],” he continued. “Israel has for all these years been doing everything it can to make sure Russian military personnel are not harmed. The Iranians have repeatedly used the Russian military as a living shield and conducted arms relocation operations under the cover of the Russian military presence.”
Elkin claimed that, according to Israeli intelligence, the Iranian military has attempted to use Russian military bases for arms shipment operations.
“We have good enough intelligence regarding Iranian actions, and we know how to warn our Russian colleagues about such attempts in time.”
The S-300 systems have been shipped to Syria in response to an incident in which the Syrian military’s older S-200 air defense systems shot down a Russian Il-20 military airplane while firing at four Israeli F-16 jets. Moscow later said the Israeli jets had used the Russian craft as cover from anti-air fire. The incident led to the deaths of 15 Russian military servicemen. The shipment of S-300s was completed on October 2.