When Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Russia on Saturday to meet with the Russian president at the Kremlin, likely high on Bennett’s agenda was maintaining the status quo of military operations that Jerusalem and Moscow currently abide by in Syria.
Then, early this morning, Israel allegedly carried out attacks on Iranian targets near Damascus, Syrian media claimed.
Was this strike connected to Bennett's meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin?
The Russian military has been operating in Syria as a sort of peace-keeping force since the civil war in that country. Under the current arrangement, Russia has turned a blind eye to alleged Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
Especially as Tehran inches closer to a revived nuclear deal, the continuation of this freedom to carry out attacks on Iranian targets is of primary concern for Jerusalem and is a major reason for its careful dealings with Moscow during the present war in Ukraine.
Since Bennett’s return from Moscow, he had a follow-up call with Putin, on Sunday and also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a spokesperson for the prime minister said.
While little is known about the content of the face-to-face meeting with Putin or the phone calls, speculation has ranged from Bennett positioning Israel as a mediator between Kyiv and Moscow to hammering out an understanding on Israel’s continued strikes in Syria.
Upon his return from Moscow, which was followed by a stop in Berlin, Bennett said that Israel has a “moral obligation” to help both parties reach an understanding.
“I went there to assist the dialogue between all of the sides, of course with the blessing and encouragement of all players,” Bennett said.
The strike in Syria occurred at 5 a.m. today and, according to a Syrian news agency, Syria’s air defense systems intercepted the Israeli missiles, but two civilians were killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike hit “a weapons and ammunition depot operated by Iran-backed militias near the Damascus international airport,” but did not confirm civilian fatalities.
In a separate incident that underscores Israel’s interest in patrolling Tehran’s presence on its border, last year the Israel Defense Forces intercepted two Iranian drones headed for the Gaza Strip, however, this information was only cleared for publication yesterday.
"In March 2021, the Iranian regime launched two UAVs toward Israeli territory. The UAVs were successfully intercepted by the Israeli Air Force's F-35i ‘Adir’ aircraft. This was the first operational interception of a UAV by an F-35i aircraft in the world.”
The drones were detected and tracked before crossing into Israeli airspace, but the IDF did not say where they were first located or intercepted.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS