On February 10th an Iranian drone was tracked as it crossed Syria and entered Israeli airspace. A few moments after entering Israeli airspace an Israeli attack helicopter which was waiting for it shot it down. When the history of the Israeli-Iranian confrontation is written, this small event may take on outside significance.
The Iranians have been involved in the Syria Civil War for a number of years coming to the defense of the then-crumbling Assad regime. Assad is Alawite and the Alawites are considered offshoots of the Shites. The Syrian Civil War quickly had turned into a Sunni - Alawite/Shite War. The Iranian at first had their proxies- Hezbollah from Lebanon intervene, but when that was not enough they started sending their own troops and recruiting Shite militia from other areas. None of this had been enough, and it was only the intervention of the Russians with their air support that was able to turn the tide for Assad and ensure his victory.
While Israel was always concerned about the Iranian presence in Syria, that concern was initially tied to the concern that the Iranians would be able to use Syria as a springboard for transferring arms to the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel had over the past few years attacked a significant number of convoys and storage facilities involved in those transfers. Within Israel there, however, there was no clear agreement if Iranian involvement in Syria was mostly defensive in nature- ie just to save the Assad regime, or whether they looked at Syria as a strategic springboard in their ongoing fight with Israel. As it became clear in the last few months that the Assad regime was headed toward total victory in Syria that question became more vital. The drone attack settled that question. The launch of a drone at Israel by the Iranian from Syrian soil represented an escalation that Israel could not allow going unanswered.
Immediately following the drone attack Israel launched an attack on the base that had sent the drone, destroying the control van. The attack, however, did not go off as planned and an Israeli plane which had actually launched missiles from over Israel was downed by a Syrian missile. For a moment the Syrians and their friends celebrated the fact that an Israeli plane had been downed for the first time in decades. The downing was a psychological blow to the image of the Israeli airforce being invincible but was due to crew error in not paying enough attention to the incoming missile and not taking, as a result, the required actions to avoid the missile. It did not reflect any strategic change.
When the Iranian drone was first downed its mission was unclear. After examining its remains it became clear that it was armed and was on a mission to strike a target in Israel. Once that news was known Israel prepared a more extensive and better-planned response to that attack. On April 9th the Israeli air force struck the base that had sent the drone, destroying the Iranian facilities on the base and killing up to 12 Iranians including the Iranian commander. The Iranians vowed revenge.
Most observers expected that the Iranians would wait for two events to happen before responding. The election in Lebanon- where they were concerned that any action could negatively impact the vote for Hezbollah. Second an announcement from the US as to whether it was walking away from the nuclear agreement. Therefore although Israel expected an Iranian attempt at revenge it expected that revenge to take place only after the above two events.
The Lebanese elections were held on May 6th, and President Trump moved up his announcement that was expected to be the 12th to May 8th. From the moment President Trump made that announcement the IDF went on high alert. It made the rare public announcement that it had observed Iranian activity that was indicative of a preparation of a missile attack. It then publicly warned that Iranians that if they attacked Israel would eliminate all of their bases in Syria. That night the IDF launched a preemptive raid against the missile site. The raid set off a chain of secondary explosions indicating that it was successful.
The next day tension continued to rise, and the IDF prepared for a potential attack, warning Golan Height residents to be ready. The Iranian went ahead with the attack despite the warnings. Since their primary missiles had been destroyed the night before, they were forced to use backup missiles. They fired 20 missiles, 16 did not reach Israeli position and the four that reached the border were downed by Israel’s Iron Dome. Israel then did what it had promised and attacked 40 Iranian targets in Syria. According to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the IAF destroyed all of the sites attacked and substantially set back Iranian efforts in Syria.
A few points are worth making. I have heard critics of Israel claim that Israel was taking advantage of President Trump's announcement on the nuclear accord to attack the Iranians. The opposite seems true, observes had said for weeks that the Iranians would wait until after the Trump announcement and that is what happened. Also, it should be very clear that the Iranians should have understood the consequences of the attack. Israel was clear that it would destroy as much of the Iranian presence in Syria as it could and that is what happened.
As to the future- the Iranians are not likely to accept what has just happened without trying to respond. They have little chance to respond conventionally from Syria. The gap between the 21st-century Israeli army and the Iranian army is too wide. They do have a number of methods to respond. The biggest question is what is the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran. The Iranian support has clearly been the key to the rise of Hezbollah, but the question is, will Hezbollah be willing to lose its new status in Lebanon by going to war with Israel. A war that would clearly bring untold destruction to Lebanon. No one really sure about that? The sense today is that Hezbollah is no longer under total Iranian control, and without Hezbollah there is no real threat to Israel, but it is the big unanswered question. They can of course resort to international terror, something they have done in the past. That is clearly a potential threat that must be taken seriously.
The long run is much cloudier. With the US walking away from the agreement all indications are that the Europeans will not be able to sustain it. As I have written before there is no American plan B. The hope is that the Iranian government will collapse due to the economy imploding. I am very dubious of that scenario when the economy goes south dictators often do best. I fear there is no other plan and that is scary.
One final thought: Vladamir Putin. The emerging consensus in Israel is that he has concluded that it is not in Russia’s interest for Iran to have too much control over Syria, that would compete with their own control. Clearly, he gave Netanyahu the green light for the attack. There also seems to be a very true chemistry between the two. As much as I may dislike both of them, it’s certainly in Israel’s interest that they maintain that chemistry.
I could go on…
Israel fails to intercept missile from Syria
Tensions between Israel and Syria are escalating. A missile launched early this morning from Syria reached the south of Israel, setting off air raid sirens near the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center in the town of Dimona. Reportedly, the long-range SA-5 missile did not cause any damage. The missile presumably exploded near the Abu Qrenat Bedouin village, with broken pieces landing as far as 30 kilometers (18 miles) away. The explosion was heard as far away as Jerusalem and Rehovot.
The Syrian missile was apparently launched in response to an aerial attack near Damascus. Syrian air defenses reported having intercepted an Israeli attack. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims the chain of events started when Israel allegedly hit a Syrian military base, destroying its air defense batteries in the area. The group said Syrian forces fired missiles in response. In retaliation for the Syrian fire, Israel apparently carried out further overnight attacks. The group said that one Syrian officer was killed and and three others were wounded in the Israeli strikes.
After the missile incident, Israel's Army Radio quoted the IDF as saying, "A short while ago, surface-to-air missile fire was identified from Syria, which landed in the Negev area. In response, a few minutes ago, the IDF struck the battery from which the missile was launched and additional Syrian surface-to-air batteries in the area."
The Israeli press has published contradicting reports, with some saying the Syrian missile was not directed toward a specific target and others claiming the missile had targeted an Israeli jet.
Israeli analysts are concerned over the anti-missile defense systems' failure to intercept the Syrian SA-5, noting that in the past year Israel had reported increasing the capabilities of its integrated, multi-layered air defense systems including the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz acknowledged the IDF's failure to shoot down the missile. Speaking during a press conference convened today to address another issue, Gantz said, "The IDF acted [in Syria] against assets vital in launching a potential attack on the State of Israel. An SA-5 anti-aircraft missile was fired and crossed the border. There was an attempt to intercept it, but it was unsuccessful."
Gantz added the IDF has launched an investigation into the failure, stating, "In most cases we see other outcomes it's a slightly more complex story. As I said, we will investigate and move forward."
Former head of Israel's Military Intelligence Directorate Amos Yadlin said in an interview today, "The arena is very tense. … Nevertheless, I suggest we take a deep breath. This wasn't an Iranian missile targeting Dimona, although there is a desire to connect this to the incident at [Iranian nuclear plant] Natanz."
Why are missiles flying over a ski resort?
The IDF&rsquos video describes Mount Hermon as being in northern Israel, but the international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel conquered most of the plateau during the Arab&ndashIsraeli War of 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1981.
Although Syria and Israel&rsquos territorial dispute over the Golan Heights was not resolved and the two states have technically been at war since Israel&rsquos founding, Israel&rsquos northwestern border was for decades its least volatile front. That changed when the Syrian war broke out in 2011, and Iran began pouring in money, resources and soldiers into the country in support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The Islamic Republic&rsquos intervention was, in part, a response to the initial routing of the regime&rsquos forces by Sunni rebels, who were financed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Tehran&rsquos primary strategic objective now is to increase its ability to deter any potential Israeli attack on Iran by raising the stakes of such a strike for Israel, says Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The presence of Iran-allied militias on the ground on Israel&rsquos northwest border &ldquomay be a game changer&rdquo in terms of this deterrent, he says. They also increase Iran&rsquos ability to support and supply Lebanon-based Shi’a Islamist political party and militant group Hezbollah, to Israel&rsquos direct north. &ldquoIsrael is attacking to severely limit such a scenario.&rdquo
&ldquoIran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment,&rdquo Netanyahu said in 2017, as Iranian and Russian intervention in support of Assad helped the regime towards strategic victory. &ldquoIt wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,&rdquo Netanyahu added, &ldquoThis is something Israel cannot accept.&rdquo
The creation of Israel
After the First World War Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after defeating the Ottoman Empire.
The land was inhabited by an Arab majority and a Jewish minority, and for a while both groups coexisted in relative peace.
But tensions mounted when Britain took on the task of establishing a ‘national home’ for the Jewish people, issued through the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
Both the Arabs and the Jews claim the region as their ancestral home, and as more Jews arrived between the 1920s and 1940s, violence between both groups and British rule grew.
In 1947 the UN voted for Palestine to be split into two states, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs, with Jerusalem as an international city.
Jewish leaders accepted the proposal but it was rejected by the Arabs and never materialised.
In 1948 British rulers left and Jewish leaders declared the state of Israel, which led to neighbouring Arab countries launching an attack the following day.
Around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were forced out of their homes and became refugees, and by the time the war was over in 1949, Israel controlled most of the territory.
Iran sees the survival of the Syrian government as being crucial to its interest. Its only consistent ally since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Syria provides a crucial thoroughfare to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iranian leaders have cited Syria as being Iran's "35th province", with President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority led government being a crucial buffer against the influence of Saudi Arabia and the United States. 
The Syrian city of Zabadani is vitally important to Assad and to Iran because, at least as late as June 2011, the city served as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps's logistical hub for supplying Hezbollah.  Prior to the Syrian war, Iran had between 2,000 and 3,000 IRGC officers stationed in Syria, helping to train local troops and managing supply routes of arms and money to neighboring Lebanon. 
In April 2014, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian deputy foreign minister said, "We aren't seeking to have Bashar Assad remain president for life. But we do not subscribe to the idea of using extremist forces and terrorism to topple Assad and the Syrian government". 
In the civil uprising phase of the Syrian civil war, Iran was said to be providing Syria with technical support based on Iran's capabilities developed following the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests. 
In April 2011 U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice accused Iran of secretly aiding Assad in his efforts to quell the protests,  and there were reports of Syrian protesters hearing security-force members speaking Persian. 
The Guardian reported in May 2011 that the Iranian government was assisting the Syrian government with riot control equipment and intelligence monitoring techniques.  According to US journalist Geneive Abdo writing in September 2011, the Iranian government provided the Syrian government with technology to monitor e-mail, cell phones and social media. Iran developed these capabilities in the wake of the 2009 protests and spent millions of dollars establishing a "cyber army" to track down dissidents online. Iran's monitoring technology is believed to be among the most sophisticated in the world, perhaps only second to China. 
In May 2012, in an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency which was later removed from its website, the deputy head of Iran's Quds Force said that it had provided combat troops to support Syrian military operations.  It was alleged by the Western media that Iran also trained fighters from Hezbollah, a Shia militant group based in Lebanon.  Iraq, located between Syria and Iran, was criticized by the U.S. for allowing Iran to ship military supplies to Assad over Iraqi airspace. 
The Economist said that Iran had, by February 2012, sent the Syrian government $9 billion to help it withstand Western sanctions.  It has also shipped fuel to the country and sent two warships to a Syrian port in a display of power and support. 
In March 2012, anonymous U.S. intelligence officials claimed a spike in Iranian-supplied arms and other aid for the Syrian government. Iranian security officials also allegedly traveled to Damascus to help deliver this assistance. A second senior U.S. official said members of Iran's main intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, were assisting Syrian counterparts in charge of the crackdown. 
According to a U.N. panel in May 2012, Iran supplied the Syrian government with arms during the previous year despite a ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic. Turkish authorities captured crates and a truck in February 2012, including assault rifles, machine guns, explosives, detonators, 60mm and 120mm mortar shells as well as other items on its border. It was believed these were destined for the Syrian government. The confidential report leaked just hours after an article appeared in The Washington Post revealing how Syrian opposition fighters started to receive more, and better, weapons in an effort paid for by Persian Gulf Arab states and co-ordinated partly by the US.  The report investigated three large illegal shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year and stated "Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments. Two of these cases involved [Syria], as were the majority of cases inspected by the Panel during its previous mandate, underscoring that Syria continues to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers."  More anonymous sources were cited by the UN in May 2012, as it claimed arms were moving both ways between Lebanon and Syria, and alleged weapons brought in from Lebanon were being used to arm the opposition.  The alleged spike in Iranian arms was likely a response to a looming influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels from Gulf states that had been reported shortly before. 
On 24 July 2012, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp commander Massoud Jazayeri said Iranians would not allow enemy plans to change Syria's political system to succeed. 
In August 2012 Leon Panetta accused Iran of setting up a pro-Government militia to fight in Syria, and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Martin Dempsey compared it to the Mahdi Army of Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Panetta said that there was evidence that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were attempting to "train a militia within Syria to be able to fight on behalf of the regime".  48 Iranians were captured by the FSA in Damascus, and U.S. officials said that the men who were captured were "active-duty Iranian Revolutionary Guard members". 
In September 2012, Western intelligence officials stated that Iran had sent 150 senior members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to preserve the Assad government, and had also sent hundreds of tons of military equipment (among them guns, rockets, and shells) to the Assad government via an air corridor that Syria and Iran jointly established. These officials believed that the intensification of Iranian support had led to increased effectiveness against the Free Syrian Army by the Assad government. 
According to rebel soldiers speaking in October 2012, Iranian Unmanned aerial vehicles had been used to guide Syrian military planes and gunners to bombard rebel positions. CNN reported that the UAV or drones—which the rebels refer to as "wizwayzi" were "easily visible from the ground and seen in video shot by rebel fighters".
Rebels have displayed captured aircraft they describe as Iranian-built drones — brightly colored, pilotless jets. They're accompanied by training manuals emblazoned with the image of Iran's revolutionary leader, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. 
In January 2013, a prisoner swap took place between the Syrian Rebels and the Syrian Government authorities. According to reports, 48 Iranians were released by the Rebels in exchange for nearly 2,130 prisoners held by the Syrian Government. Rebels claimed the captives were linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described the Iranians as "members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard," calling it "just another example of how Iran continues to provide guidance, expertise, personnel, technical capabilities to the Syrian regime." 
Iran decided in June 2013 to send 4,000 troops to aid the Syrian government forces, described as a "first contingent" by Robert Fisk of The Independent, who added that the move underscored a Sunni vs. Shiite alignment in the Middle East.  Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers, along with fellow Shi'ite forces from Hezbollah and members of Iran's Basij militia participated in the capture of Qusair from rebel forces on 9 June 2013.   In 2014, Iran increased its deployment of IRGC in Syria.  Iran also proposed to open a new Syrian front against Israel in the Golan Heights, this coming a day after Egyptian President cut off diplomatic relations with Syria and demanded that Iran support for the pro Syrian-government Hezbollah end.  A Syrian official called the severing of relations by Morsi "irresponsible" and said it was part of a move by the U.S. and Israel to exacerbate divisions in the region. 
According to American officials questioned by journalist Dexter Filkins, officers from the Quds force have "coordinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications" in Syria from late 2012 to 2013. With help from the Hezbollah, and under the leadership of Quds Force general Qassem Soleimani, the al-Assad government won back strategic territory from rebels in 2013, in particular an important supply route during the Al-Qusayr offensive in April and May. 
In the fall of 2013 Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad Jamali-Paqaleh of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in Syria, while volunteering to defend a Shia shrine.  In February, General Hassan Shateri, also of the Revolutionary Guards, had been killed while travelling from Beirut to Damascus. 
Iran has stepped up support on the ground for Syrian President Assad, providing hundreds more military specialists to gather intelligence and train troops. This further backing from Tehran, along with deliveries of munitions and equipment from Moscow, is helping to keep Assad in power.   This surge of support was in part a decision strongly promoted by Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds force, to exploit the outbreak of infighting between rebel fighters and the al-Qaeda inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). 
A former Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces commander said that "top Quds force commanders were tasked with advising and training Assad's military and his commanders", adding that "Revolutionary Guards directed the fighting on the instructions of the Quds Force commanders".  In addition there are thousands of Iranian paramilitary Basij volunteer fighters as well as Shi'ites from Iraq. Former Iranian officials and a Syrian opposition source also put the count of those auxiliary forces in the thousands.  
A Syrian opposition source said in recent months Iranian led forces had begun operating in coastal areas including Tartous and Latakia. They have local ID cards, wear Syrian military fatigues and work with the elite Syrian Air Force intelligence unit. 
The Wall Street Journal reported on 2 October 2015 that Iran's Revolutionary Guard (the IRGC) has had some 7,000 IRGC members and Iranian paramilitary volunteers operating in Syria and was planning to expand its presence in the country through local fighters and proxies. The Journal also reported that some experts estimate 20,000 Shiite foreign fighters are on the ground, backed by both Shiite Iran and Hezbollah. 
At least 121 IRGC troops, including several commanders, have been killed in the Syrian Civil War since it began.   
Key victories were achieved with substantial support provided by the Quds force, namely the al-Ghab plains battles, Aleppo offensives, Dara'aya offensives of 2015 and the al-Qusayr offensives which established government and Hezbollah control over the northern Qalamoun region and the border crossings from Lebanon to Syria. In June 2015, some reports suggested that the Iranian military were effectively in charge of the Syrian government troops on the battlefield. 
After the loss of Idlib province to a rebel offensive in the first half of 2015, the situation was judged to have become critical for Assad's survival. High level talks were held between Moscow and Tehran in the first half of 2015 and a political agreement was achieved.  On 24 July General Qasem Soleimani visited Moscow  to devise the details of the plan for coordinated military action in Syria.  
In mid-September 2015, the first reports of new detachments from the Iranian revolutionary guards arriving in Tartus and Latakia in west Syria were made. With much of the Syrian Arab Army and National Defence Forces units deployed to more volatile fronts, the Russian Marines and Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) have relieved their positions by installing military checkpoints inside the cities of Slunfeh (east Latakia Governorate), Masyaf (East Tartus Governorate) and Ras al-Bassit (Latakia coastal city).  There were also further reports of new Iranian contingents being deployed to Syria in early October 2015. 
On 1 October 2015, citing two Lebanese sources, Reuters reported  that hundreds of Iranian troops had arrived in Syria over the previous 10 days to join Syrian government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes that started on 30 September 2015 and were welcomed as vital by Bashar Assad. 
On 8 October 2015, brigadier general Hossein Hamadani, the deputy to General Qasem Soleimani in Syria was killed.     On 12 October, two more senior commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hamid Mokhtarband and Farshad Hassounizadeh, were reported by Iranian media to have been killed in Syria. 
At the end of October 2015, Iran agreed to take part in the Syria peace talks in Vienna.  The talks for the first time brought Iran to the negotiating table with Saudi Arabia, which are said to be engaged in a proxy war in Syria.   The talks however were promptly followed by an exchange of sharp rebukes between Iran's and Saudi Arabia's top officials that cast doubt on Iran's future participation in those.  
In June 2017, Iran attacked militants' targets in the Deir Ezzor area in eastern Syria with ballistic missiles fired from western Iran.  As a result of these attacks (in an operation which was named as the missile operation of "Laylat al-Qadr"),   more than 170 forces of ISIS among a number of its commanders were killed.  [ unreliable source? ]
In May 2018, Iranian Quds forces based in Syria launched a 20 rockets attack on Israel. None of the rockets hit any targets and Israeli aircraft responded by extensively hitting both Syrian and Iranian military sites in Syria. 
In January 2019, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed that it had carried out strikes against Iranian military targets in Syria several hours after a rocket was intercepted over the Golan Heights. The Israeli military claimed in a statement that Quds Force positions were targeted and included a warning to the Syrian military against "attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory." 
Between 27 February and 3 March, 4 Iranians were killed by Turkish forces.  On 7 March, an IRGC commander, Farhad Dabirian, was reported to be killed a day earlier in the Sayyidah Zaynab neighborhood in Damascus, without giving details on the circumstances of his death.  On 18 March, an Iranian commander, Mehran Azizani, was announced to be killed by Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.  On 15 May, Another commander, Abu al-Fadl Sarlak, was announced to be killed probably by an Israeli airstrike in Khanasir. 
The Sunni world claims that the fierce insistence of Iran's ruling clerics to engage actively in the Syrian crisis is driven by sectarianism rather than political strategy. The great differences between the Alawites and the Twelver Shiites have been apparently overlooked. Although the Assad government has enjoyed a political alliance with ruling clerics in Iran from the time of its establishment, this alliance is not driven by any common religious/sectarian causes. The secular Ba'ath government in Syria did not participate in Iranian religious issues, and the Ayatollahs in Iran did not consider Assad a Shiite partner. 
In a March 2018 poll of 1,011 adults across all of Syria's 14 governorates, 64% of Syrians said that Iran's influence on their country was an overall negative, while 32% said Iran's influence was an overall positive. 
Despite Iran's costly presence in Syria, public support for military involvement in Syria remains strong among the Iranians because of religious motivations and security concerns.  From January 2013 to March 2017, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps lost 2,100 soldiers in Syria and 9,000 wounded, according to Iran's veterans’ affairs office. These included 418 ranking officers and several generals   In August 2017, Brigadier General Hamid Abazari stated that 25% of the soldiers that Iran had sent to Syria had been killed or wounded,   implying several tens of thousands had served. In March 2019, IRGC officer and strategist Hassan Abbasi stated that 2,300 Iranians "went to Syria where they were martyred in recent years."  [ unreliable source? ] Iranian-backed militias have also incurred heavy losses, with Liwa Fatemiyoun alone reporting over 10,000 casualties (2,000+ killed, 8,000+ wounded) by January 2018. 
On 30 January 2013, Israeli aircraft allegedly struck a Syrian convoy transporting Iranian weapons to Hezbollah.  Other sources stated the targeted site was a military research center in Jamraya responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons. 
Two additional air strikes, also attributed to Israel, reportedly took place on 3 and 5 May 2013. Both allegedly targeted long-ranged weapons sent from Iran to Hezbollah.  
According to anonymous US officials, Israel launched another airstrike or cruise missile attack on 5 July. It allegedly targeted Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles near the city of Latakia, and killed several Syrian troops. 
An unidentified U.S. administration official on 31 October said Israeli warplanes struck a Syrian base near the port of Latakia, targeting missiles that Israel thought might be transferred to its Lebanese militia enemy Hezbollah. 
The relationship between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Islamic Republic of Iran strengthened as a result of Hamas moving away from Iran due to differing positions on the Syrian Civil War. Iran rewarded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's pro-Assad stance with an increase in financial and military assistance. Abu Ahmad Fouad, a PFLP political-bureau member said that the group might retaliate toward Israel if the United States bombs Syria. 
On 15 December 2013 a Lebanese sniper opened fire at an Israeli vehicle traveling near the border area of Rosh Hanikra, killing a soldier inside. Several hours later, the Israeli military said it shot two Lebanese soldiers after spotting "suspicious movement" in the same area. 
Syrian opposition sources, as well as Lebanese sources, reported that another strike happened in Latakia on 26 January 2014. Explosions were reported in the city and Israeli planes were reported over Lebanon. The target was allegedly S-300 missiles. 
It was reported that Israeli aircraft carried out two airstrikes against Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon near the border with Syria on 24 February 2014, killing several militants. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed the attack targeted a Hezbollah missile base. 
On 7 December 2014 Israeli jets allegedly bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon. According to foreign reports the attack targeted a warehouse of advanced S-300 missiles, which were en route from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Al Arabiya reported that two Hezbollah militants were killed in the strikes, including a senior military official. 
On 18 January 2015, Israeli helicopters allegedly attacked a Hezbollah's convoy in the Syrian-controlled part of Golan Heights, killing six prominent members of Hezbollah and six IRGC commanders, including a General.   On 28 January, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa farms, killing two soldiers and wounding seven.  Israel responded with at least 50 artillery shells across the border into southern Lebanon, in which a Spanish UN peacekeeper was killed. 
On 25 April 2015, a series of attacks attributed to the Israeli Air Force were made in the al-Qalamoun region of Syria against Hezbollah camps and weapons convoys in two brigade bases.  Al-Nusra Front, however, has also claimed the attacks. 
On 29 July 2015, Israeli airplanes reportedly struck a vehicle located in a Druse village in southwestern Syria, killing Hezbollah men and a pro-Assad militiaman.  A second airstrike targeted a military base along the Syrian-Lebanese border belonging to a pro-Syrian Palestinian faction. 
On 20 and 21 August 2015, after four rockets hit the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee, Israel allegedly launched airstrikes in Syria, killing several militants. 
According to Syrian media, on 31 October 2015, Israeli aircraft attacked numerous Hezbollah targets in southern Syria, close to the border with Lebanon in the Qalamoun Mountains region. Estimated targets included a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah.  It was reported another Israeli airstrike near Damascus airport on 11 November  that targeted Hezbollah weapons warehouses. 
The Syrian opposition reported an Israeli airstrike in the Qualamoun area of the Syria–Lebanon border on 23 November 2015. According to these sources, the strike killed 13 Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters, and left dozens wounded, including four seriously. The Qualamoun region has been a major transit point for Hezbollah fighters and other logistical equipment to and from Syria.  According to Syrian sources, Israeli aircraft attacked again Syrian army and Hezbollah targets in the area around Qalamoun on 28 November, causing dead and wounded among Hezbollah fighters. 
On 19 December 2015, eight people, including Samir Kuntar and other Hezbollah commanders were killed by an explosion in the outskirts of Damascus. According to official Syrian sources, Kuntar was killed by a "terrorist rocket attack".  On 20 December 2015, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi described the incident as a terrorist operation "plotted beforehand", noting that Syrian authorities were carrying out an investigation to find out how the operation happened.  Hezbollah claimed that the building was destroyed by an air-to-surface missile launched by Israeli Air Force jets.    On 21 December, the Free Syrian Army released a video clip claiming responsibility for killing Kuntar.  
Sources affiliated with the Syrian opposition reported that Israeli aircraft attacked seven positions belonging to Hezbollah in the Qalamoun Mountains area on 26 December 2015. 
Arab media reported that on 30 November 2016, Israeli jets allegedly struck a Syrian military compound in Damascus and a Hezbollah weapons convoy in the Damascus-Beirut highway. 
On 7 December 2016, Syria and Hezbollah accused Israel of launching surface-to-surface missiles targeting the Mezzeh airbase near Damascus. Unnamed Syrian sources told Lebanese newspaper Elnashra that the strikes targeted the airport's runway and operations command center, while another unnamed source said that the strikes targeted the regime's 4th division operations center at the airport.  A Syrian opposition group said the target was a convoy of chemical weapons en route to Hezbollah. 
On 12 January 2017, Israeli warplanes were blamed for striking the Mezzeh Airbase in rural Damascus. According to Al-Masdar field correspondent, the target was an ammunition depot, causing a massive explosion that could be heard from the Syrian capital. 
On 22 February 2017, Israeli jets struck a Hezbollah weapons shipment near Damascus. 
The March 2017 Israel–Syria incident took place on 17 March 2017, when several Syrian S-200 missiles were fired at Israeli Air Force jets, allegedly aiming to attack targets in Syria, near a military installation in Palmyra, and one missile was shot down by an "aerial defense system", likely an Arrow missile.    The State of Israel has stated it was targeting weapons shipments headed toward anti-Israeli forces, specifically Hezbollah, located in Lebanon.  Israel denied Syria's claim that one jet fighter was shot down and another damaged. Israel has not reported any pilots or aircraft missing in Syria, or anywhere else in the Middle East following the raids. Also, neither Syria nor Hezbollah have shown photos or video of downed Israeli aircraft or personnel. According to some sources, the incident was the first time Israeli officials clearly confirmed an Israeli strike on Syrian territory during the Syrian Civil War, though IDF declined any comment concerning the location of targets. 
On 27 April 2017, Syria's state-run SANA news agency said that there was an explosion felt in Damascus International Airport at 3:42 am. No casualties were reported. The blast was reportedly felt 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) away.  The Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz appeared to take responsibility for the explosion, telling Army Radio that "The incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah."  Two rebel sources told Reuters that "five strikes hit an ammunition depot used by Iran-backed militias."
On 7 September 2017, the Guardian reported that the Syrian military said in a statement that Israeli jets carried out airstrikes on the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre, a Syrian government military research facility where it was rumoured to contain chemical weapons near the city of Masyaf, Hama Governorate, killing at least two Syrian Army soldiers. [ citation needed ] The missiles were fired from Lebanese air space the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other sources identified the target as the al-Talai facility and Syrian opposition sources said four Israeli aircraft were involved in the strike. The US claims the research centre developed the sarin gas weapon allegedly used in the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack Yaakov Amidror a former Israeli national security adviser, said "For many years it has been one of the Syrian centres for research and development for weapons systems including chemical weapons … and weapons that have been transferred to Hezbollah." The director of the Israeli national security council's counter-terrorism bureau called for the destruction of the centre in 2010, alleging it had provided weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas. 
On 22 September 2017, some sources reported that Israeli jets carried out three separate strikes on targets near the Damascus International Airport, which the SOHR reported to have struck Hezbollah weapons depots. 
On 16 October, Israeli aircraft destroyed a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft battery east of Damascus after it fired a missile at Israeli jets that were on a routine aerial reconnaissance flight in Lebanese airspace.  On morning 16 October 2017, according to the Israeli military, Israeli jets attacked a Ba'athist Syrian anti-aircraft missile launcher after it fired on Israeli aircraft flying in Lebanon's air space, close to the Syrian border, for reconnaissance mission an Israeli military spokesman said it was the first time Israeli aircraft had been targeted by Syrian forces while flying over Lebanon since the Syrian war began. 
On 1 November 2017, Arab media claimed Israeli jets allegedly bombed a weapons depot situated in rural areas around Hisya, south of Homs. Several reports claimed that the Syrians launched a surface-to-air missile against Israeli aircraft but did not hit them.  Arab media also reported Israeli strikes and anti-aircraft missile launches from Iranian bases near al-Kiswahon 2 December 2017.  
On early morning 2 December 2017, a military site near Al-Kiswah south of Damascus was attacked by missiles reputedly from the Israeli military two of the surface-to-surface missiles launched were intercepted by Syrian air defense, according to Syrian media reports.    The incident was three days after followed by a report by Syria that claimed that Syrian air defense units had shot down three Israeli missiles that were targeting a military post near Damascus there was no Israeli comment on the incident.  Another attack was reported on 7 December. 
On 7 February 2018, Syrian state media said that Israeli warplanes attacked a military position in the Damascus countryside from Lebanese airspace, with Syrian air defenses destroying most of the missiles. Other reports stated that the target was the Scientific Research Center in Jamraya, west of Damascus, and that the same position had been targeted by Israel twice before. Some activists claim that the position contains arms depots used by Hezbollah. 
Israel conducted further airstrikes in Syria in February 2018 which were believed to target weapon transfers to Hezbollah.  Subsequently, an Iranian-made drone was shot down over northern Israel and an IAF F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in retaliatory strikes.  Both aircrew ejected and landed safely before the plane crashed near the Harduf kibbutz and the IAF followed up with further strikes against targets Syrian air defenses and Iranian drone-control facilities.  
On 17 March 2018, the Israeli Air Force struck a target in Syria. In response the Syrian Army fired several S-200 missiles at Israeli jets above Golan Heights. Israel reported that one Syrian missile had been shot down by an Arrow 2 missile, while none of its aircraft had been damaged.  Israel stated it was targeting weapon shipments headed toward anti-Israeli forces, specifically Hezbollah, in Lebanon, while the Syrian Army claimed that a military site near Palmyra had been struck. 
Russia and Syria accused Israel of carrying out an airstrike on 9 April 2018, against Tiyas air base, also known as the T-4 air base, outside Palmyra in central Syria. The Russian defense ministry said the Israeli aircraft launched eight missiles at the base from Lebanese airspace, five of which were intercepted by Syrian air defense systems. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, at least 14 people were killed and more were wounded.  Among the dead were seven Iranian soldiers.  On 16 April, an unnamed Israeli military official confirmed to the New York Times his country conducted the airstrikes. 
At least 26 pro-regime fighters were killed by missile strikes on 29 April in the Hama Province of central Syria. According to Iran's state media, 18 of them were Iranians.  The strikes also hit an airbase in the nearby Aleppo Province storing surface-to-surface missiles. "Given the nature of the target, it is likely to have been an Israeli strike", according to SOHR. 
Arab media reported that on 6 May 2018 eight members of the Syrian Air Force's 150th Air Defense Division were killed in a mysterious explosion in the morning on the Damascus-Suwayda road. Engineers and soldiers from the battalion that was responsible for the operation of the anti-aircraft system S-200 and had carried out the downing of the Israeli F-16 two months prior, took a transport vehicle and suddenly the explosion took place. According to Syrian sources, eight were killed and Israel was blamed for assassinating them. 
According to Syrian media, on 8 May 2018, Israeli warplanes struck several military bases in Syria where there is significant Iranian presence. The Syrian government claimed that two Israeli missiles that were targeting a weapons convoy at a base were downed near the al-Kiswah industrial zones close to Damascus. 
On 10 May, Iranian elite forces on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights were accused by IDF of having fired around 20 projectiles towards Israeli army positions causing no damage or injuries.  Israel responded with the "most extended strike in Syria in decades".  According to Russia's Defense Ministry, this involved 28 planes and the fire of 70 missiles.  However, The Syrian Arab Army claimed responsibility for the attack on Israeli army positions.  And Fares Shehabi, member of the Syrian parliament for Aleppo, also confirmed that it was the Syrians and not the Iranians that struck Israeli targets in retaliation to Israeli bombardment of Syria.  
On 18 May, massive explosions hit the Hama Military Airport. Sky News Arabia reported that it was caused by targeted strikes against an Iranian Bavar 373 long-range missile defense system that was put into service in March 2017.  The Baghdad Post reported that Israeli jets targeted the IRGC positions at the airport and that the shelling came shortly after hitting positions of the Iraqi militias who gathered there. 
On 24 May, warplanes flying from Lebanese airspace conducted a strike near an airport in Homs, following earlier reports of Israeli aircraft being seen above Lebanon.    According to the Syrian Al-Marsad organization for human rights, the attack was aimed at a Hezbollah base.  Twenty one people were reportedly killed in the strike, including nine Iranians. 
According to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, Israel struck Iraqi Shiite militants in Syria with the approval of both Russia and the United States on 18 June 2018, killing 52.  Syrian official news agency SANA reported that two Israeli missiles struck near Damascus International Airport on 26 June.  Local activists claimed that Israeli warplanes targeted an Iranian cargo plane that was being unloaded at the airport.  UK-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Israeli missiles hit arms depots for Hezbollah near the airport and Syrian air defense systems failed to prevent the Israeli strikes. 
According to the Syrian opposition, an Israeli airstrike destroyed ammunition warehouses belonging to the Assad regime and pro-Assad militias in the Deraa district of southern Syria on 3 July. 
Syrian State TV reported on 8 July that Israeli aircraft targeted the T-4 air base near Homs, and Syrian air defense systems shot down a number of incoming missiles. While Syrian state media did not report any casualties, the Syrian opposition stated nine people were killed in the strikes. Citing Arab media sources, Al Jazeera claimed between four and six rockets hit the base and its surroundings. 
On 11 July 2018, after an Israeli Patriot missile intercepted a Syrian reconnaissance drone which infiltrated into northern Israel, Israel attacked three Syrian military posts in the Quneitra area. 
Syrian media reported that on 15 July Israel attacked the Nayrab military airport outside Aleppo. In the past Al-Nayrab has been linked to Iranian forces.  On 22 July, Syrian state television reported that an Israeli airstrike hit a military site in the city of Misyaf in the Hama province, causing only material damage. An intelligence source assessed that a military research center for chemical arms production was located near the city. 
On 22 July 2018, SANA claimed that a facility at Masyaf had been struck. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that an attack had targeted the location and claimed that it was being used for the assembly of surface-to-surface missiles, under the supervision of Iranian forces. it further claimed that Iranian and Hizbollah units were present in the vicinity. The facility struck is reported to have been under the control of the Scientific Studies And Research Center which has been suspected of being responsible for the production of chemical weapons. The site was allegedly previously struck in September 2017. 
On 24 July, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intercepted a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet that they said had crossed about one mile into Israeli airspace. The IDF shot the aircraft down using two Patriot missiles. 
Large explosions were reported at a Syrian military air base near Damascus on 2 September 2018 in a strike attributed by some to Israeli warplanes. However, Syria denied an attack had taken place, saying the blasts were caused by an explosion at an ammunitions dump provoked by electrical malfunctions.  Israel didn't issue any statement in regard to the incident.
Syrian state media reported that Israeli aircraft attacked Iranian positions in the city of Hama on 4 September 2018, killing at least one person and injuring twelve others. According to a military source, Syrian air defenses intercepted several missiles over the nearby town of Wadi al-Uyun. Additional strikes were reported in Baniyas as well.  Israel revealed that its forces have carried out more than 200 airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria and fired over 800 missiles and mortar shells over the past year and a half, causing an interruption of Iran's arms smuggling and the evacuation of several Iranian bases in Syria.  Israel allegedly targeted Damascus airport on 15 September, destroying a weapons depot with newly-arrived arms for Hezbollah or the Iranian military. Syrian state media claimed Israeli missiles were intercepted. 
On 17 September, the Israeli Air Force conducted missile strikes on a weapons facility near Latakia. The IDF acknowledged the airstrikes the following day.  SANA news agency reported ten people had been injured.  According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 113 Iranian soldiers were killed during the past month as a result of Israeli strikes in Syria.  During or within 40 minutes after the strikes, an Il-20 ELINT reconnaissance plane, with 15 Russian servicemen on board, which was coming in to land at the Russian Khmeimim Air Base, was shot down in a friendly fire incident by Syrian air defense systems that sought to target the Israeli aircraft.    Russia's defence minister Sergey Shoygu blamed Israel's military for the accident because, according to the ministry, the Russian military had only received one minute's warning from Israel about the impending missile strikes and the four Israeli F-16 jets that conducted the strikes deliberately used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian fire.   On 20 September in Moscow an Israeli delegation led by commander of the Israeli Air Force Amikam Norkin presented to Russia Air Force command Israel's inquiry on the bombing of an Iranian-Hezbollah advanced weapons transfer site and the related loss of the IL-20. The IDF stated that their planes were already landing in Israel when Syrian antiaircraft missiles shot down the Russian IL-20.  
Israeli missiles reportedly targeted sites belonging to Iranian-backed militias in al-Kiswah on 29 November 2018. Fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile were found in an open area in Israel's side of the Golan Heights several hours after Syrian media said it had downed "hostile targets" over the southern part of the country the previous night. Israeli military sources denied any plane was shot down. 
Alleged Israeli airstrike in Damascus, targeting Hezbollah and weaponry.  Israeli air defenses, probably Arrow missile were fired from Hadera towards a Syrian surface to air missile. 
The IDF stated that it bombed 202 Iranian targets from January 2017 to September 2018 alone, using over 800 bombs and missiles, an average of one strike every three days. The 202 targets were mostly shipments of advanced weaponry, as well as military bases and infrastructure used by the IRGC and their proxy militias, which the IDF officials said drove Iranian forces to abandon some posts. 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that on 12 January 2019, Israeli aircraft attacked missile depots belonging to Hezbollah in the al-Kiswah area and Damascus International Airport. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said "Only in the last 36 hours did the air force strike targets in Syria and we have proven that we will stop the settlement of Iran in Syria."  The strikes destroyed a building and radar site at the airport as well as a radar site in the Suwayda countryside, and damaged a suspected Iranian target in a Syrian military base next to Jamraya. 
Local Syrian media and Syrian opposition sources reported that on 20 January 2019, Israeli missiles were fired at Damascus International Airport and the town of al-Kiswah. The Syrian military claimed nine missiles were intercepted by its air defenses. IDF reported that the Iron Dome system intercepted an incoming projectile from Syria, which was heading toward the northern Golan Heights.  Israel retaliated by attacking Iranian targets near Damascus and Syrian air defense batteries that fired upon the attacking Israeli jets.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 people died in the strikes, including 12 Iranian fighters.  On 23 January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Israel must stop its "arbitrary" air incursions into Syria. Syria's envoy to the UN Bashar Jaafari raised the prospected of retaliatory Syrian attacks on Tel Aviv airport. 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that on 12 January 2019, Israeli aircraft attacked missile depots belonging to Hezbollah in the al-Kiwash area and the Damascus international airport. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "Only in the last 36 hours did the air force strike targets in Syria and we have proven that we will stop the settlement of Iran in Syria." 
On 27 March, an Israeli airstrike northeast of Aleppo on a weapons depot killed one Iranian and six Iraqi fighters. 
On 13 April, Syria says Israel launched airstrikes at a military academy near Masyaf known as the "Accounting School", along with targeting a missile development center in a village near Masyaf, and a nearby military base run by Iran-backed fighters. The strikes injured at least 6 soldiers. The SOHR reports that 17 were wounded and deaths occurred, but no number was given. 
On 27 May, an Israeli aircraft destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery, killing 2 soldiers (one of whom was an officer). 
On 3 June, Syrian state media reported that Israel attacked the Tiyas Military Airbase near the northern city of Homs, killing 1 to 5 soldiers.  Independent satellite imagery analysis showed that the strikes were aimed at a specific recently arrived weapons cache from Iran, possibly UAVs. 
On 1 July, Israel performed strikes on multiple Iranian and Syrian military targets outside Damascus and Homs, killing 16 people (including 9 foreign militiamen) and wounding 21.  A stray Syrian S-200 missile fired in response to the Israeli strikes crashed and exploded on a mountain near Vouno in Northern Cyprus, located 20 km (12 miles) northeast of Nicosia, causing no injuries but starting a fire. 
On 23 July, Israel launched missile strikes on military positions and intelligence facilities belonging to Iran and Iran-controlled militias, killing 6 Iranian soldiers and 3 militiamen. 
On 24 August, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted strikes on targets near Damascus, citing a successful attempt to obstruct an Iranian drone attack on Israel. 
On 9 September, Israeli aircraft struck an arms depot belonging to a pro-Iranian Iraqi militia, killing 21 militiamen and demolishing the facility. 
On 17 September, Israeli aircraft struck another weapons depot belonging to pro-Iranian Iraqi militiamen, killing another 10 fighters. 
On 12 November, Israel unsuccessfully attempted to kill Akram al-Ajouri, a senior commander of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). However, the airstrike killed his son and bodyguard. 
On 19 November, after four missiles were fired and intercepted at Israeli-controlled Golan, Israeli aircraft attacked Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, including advanced air defense systems, surface-to-air missiles, reconnaissance sites and warehouses, the National Defense Building at the Damascus International Airport which houses the Quds Force headquarters and other military positions. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 23 people were killed, including sixteen foreigners (most likely Iranians). 
9–10 January, unidentified planes, probably belonging to Israel, killed eight fighters from pro-Iranian Iraqi militia, the Imam Ali Brigades, by targeting their arms depots along with other trucks carrying a weapons shipment to Lebanese Hezbollah, in the vicinity of Al-Bukamal and Al-Qitaa.  
On 6 February, Israeli warplanes fire missiles near Damascus, Syria. A pro-opposition war monitor said army positions and Iran-backed militias were targeted, killing 15 fighters, including five Syrians and at least three Iranians. Syria said eight fighters were wounded and Israel intended to "save the armed terrorist organisations which have been collapsing in Idlib and western Aleppo Governorate in front of the strikes of the Syrian Army", in reference to the Operation Idlib. 
On 13 February, Israeli missiles targeted Iranian warehouses between the Damascus International Airport and the Sayyidah Zaynab neighborhood.   Israeli strikes on Damascus airport killed seven fighters. Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory, said the dead were three Syrian soldiers and four members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. 
On 24 February, Israeli warplanes killed six people near the Damascus International Airport including Iran-backed fighters and two members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  On 27 February, Israeli warplanes killed a Syrian policeman in the Quneitra Governorate,  as he was initially thought to be related to Hezbollah. 
On 5 March, Israeli raids targeted Al-Qusayr and Shayrat Military Airbases, the headquarters of Hezbollah near Homs refinery,   and Tulul al-Humur in Quneitra Governorate.  The raids resulted in killing one Syrian soldier and injuring others. 
On 7 March, an IRGC commander, Farhad Dabirian, was reported to be killed a day earlier in the Sayyidah Zaynab neighborhood in Damascus, without giving details on the circumstances of his death. Dabirian was responsible for operations against the Islamic State in Palmyra. 
On 11 March, three warplanes targeted al-Hassian area near the Syrian town of Al-Bukamal, which resulted in killing 26 of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization. However, the US-led coalition denied carrying out those airstrikes in Syria. 
On 31 March, Syrian media claimed that Israeli planes targeted Shayrat Airbase with at least eight missiles from Lebanon's airspace. 
On 18 April, 2 Israeli airstrikes targeted a Hezbollah commander Mustafa Mughniyeh in Jdeideh Yabous, near the Syrian-Lebanese border. No one was hurt in the incident.  
On 20 April, Syrian authorities stated that they intercepted Israeli airstrikes,  fired from Lebanese airspace,  which killed 9 Iran-backed fighters in Palmyra. 
On 27 April, Israeli airstrikes fired from Lebanese airspace targeting Iranian forces in al-Hujaira and al-Adliya, south of Damascus, killed 4 militants and 3 civilians. The Syrian military claimed to have shot down most of the missiles.  
On 30 April, Israeli helicopters fired five rockets from the Golan Heights over the southern Syrian border,   at Tall al Ahmar al Gharbi in the Quneitra region, and also near Maaraba, Daraa. 
On 5 May, 14 Iranian and Iraqi militiamen were killed due to Israeli airstrikes on positions of Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias in the deserts of Al-Quriyah, Al-Salihiyah and Al-Mayadin in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor after attacking weapons and ammunition depots in As-Safira area, south-east of Aleppo.  On 15 May, an Iranian commander, Abu al-Fadl Sarlak, was announced to be killed in Khanasir, probably from the Israeli airstrikes near Aleppo. 
On 16 May, SOHR reported that 7 Iranian-backed militias were killed by unidentified warplanes targeting their military base in Mueayzila near Al Bukamal. 
On 4 June, Israeli warplanes targeted defense factories belonging to the IRGC near Masyaf, in which 9 militants were killed, according to SOHR.  
On 6 June, eight airstrikes by unidentified aircraft targeted a base of pro-Iranian forces in rural Deir Ezzor, killing 12 Iraqi and Afghan fighters and destroying their equipment and ammunition, according to SOHR. 
On 24 June after midnight, Israeli airstrikes targeted ammunition depots in Sabburah, Salamiyah, Aqarib and Ithriya in Hama Governorate,  in addition to airstrikes at Kabbajb in Deir Ezzor Governorate, Al-Sukhna in Homs Governorate, and military facilities at Tel el-Sahn and Salkhad in Al-Suwayda Governorate. The airstrikes killed at least seven soldiers and injured several others.  
On 27 June, unidentified warplanes killed at least six pro-Iranian militants including four Syrians, when they targeted their sites near Al-Abbas, Deir Ezzor Governorate, according to SOHR.  The airstrikes came hours after Iranian Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani visited his forces in Al-Bukamal. 
On 11 July, at least 35 Iran-backed fighters were killed, including IRGC officer Ibrahim Asmi,  by unidentified warplanes in Deir Ezzor Governorate near the Iraqi borders, according to the Anadolu Agency. 
On 20 July, military sites linked to Syrian regime forces and Iranian militias were targeted by alleged Israeli airstrikes near Damascus. Syrian air defenses also responded to Israeli missiles in As-Suwayda, Izraa and Quneitra in southern Syria.   According to a monitoring group based in Britain, five Iran-backed fighters were killed in the strikes,  including Hezbollah member Ali Kamel Mohsen from south Lebanon, who was killed near Damascus airport.  By 26 July the death toll increased to eight pro-Iranian militants of non-Syrian nationalities. 
On 3 August, after four attackers were killed by Israeli forces while laying improvised explosives at the border fence in southern Golan the previous day, Israeli aircraft and helicopters struck targets in Syria, including lookout points, intelligence gathering mechanisms, anti-aircraft weapons and means of control and command at military bases.  Israeli airstrikes struck positions of Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias in Imam Ali military base between 5:00 am and 9:00 am killing 15 fighters and destroying military positions, bases and weapons warehouses. 
On 31 August, eleven people were killed in Israeli missile strikes in southern Syria, including three Syrian soldiers, seven pro-Iranian fighters and a civilian. 
On 3 September, 16 Iran-backed fighters were killed by suspected Israeli airstrikes. Those killed were "Iraqi paramilitary fighters loyal to Iran, seven of whom were killed outside the city of Mayadeen," Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said. The other nine were killed in strikes south of the city of Abu Kamal, on the Iraqi border further east. 
On 11 September, Syrian media announced that air defenses thwarted an Israeli attack against the missile compound in Al-Safirah,  outside of Aleppo, which left seven militants from the Iraqi Hezbollah dead, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 
On 14 September, at least 10 pro-Iranian militiamen were killed in airstrikes believed to have been conducted by Israel in eastern Syria, a monitor reported. 
On 21 October, Three Iranian-backed paramilitary fighters were killed in an overnight Israeli strike that hit Syria's southern province of Quneitra, a war monitor said. The three were from the Syrian Resistance to Liberate the Golan, a group linked to the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 
On 15 November, six Iranian proxy militants were killed in an unidentified missile strike against the Iraq-Syria border city of Al Bukamal. It was not known whether Israeli fighter jets or the US-led international coalition had staged the raid. 
On 18 November, 10 people were killed during an Israeli airstrike in Syria overnight, including Iranian nationals. The casualties included: three Syrian officers and members of air-defence forces, five militiamen of "Al-Quds Corps" believed to of Iranian nationality, and two other militiamen, but it is not known yet if they were Lebanese or Iraqis.   However, Israelis claimed that the airstrikes which targeted air defence positions near Damascus airport and ammunition depots near Sayyida Zainab and al-Kiswah, came after they found three Claymore anti-personnel charges in the Golan Heights. 
On 22 November, 14 pro-Iranian militiamen of Afghan and Iraqi nationalities were killed during the shelling by aircraft, believed to be Israeli, in Al-Bukamal countryside, which targeted positions affiliated with these militias in that area. Two positions and vehicles were also destroyed in the attack. 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights HAS documented the killing of eight militiamen of pro-Iranian militias and Lebanese Hezbollah of non-Syrian nationalities, as a result of Israeli shelling on Jabal al-Mani in southern Damascus countryside just before midnight. 
On 26 November, airstrikes likely carried out by Israel killed at least 19 pro-Iran militia fighters in war-torn eastern Syria, a war monitor said Thursday.    
According to unnamed Iraqi sources on 28 or 29 November, an airstrike allegedly killed an IRGC commander along with three other people when their vehicle was carrying weapons across the Iraqi-Syrian border.  Iran however denied these reports. "We have not received any report in this regard, and it seems more like media propaganda," Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, said, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency. 
On 25 December, Israeli warplanes targeted pro-Iran weapons facilities in the Masyaf area, after they had flown very low over parts of Lebanon.  Israeli airstrikes in Syria overnight killed at least six fighters operating in pro-Iran militias on the western province of Hama, a war monitoring group said Friday. 
On 30 December, one Syrian soldier has been killed and several others wounded in an Israeli attack on a military position in the Damascus countryside near the Zabadani Valley, state news agency SANA says, citing a military source. 
On 7 January, Israeli airstrikes targeted pro-Iranian forces weapons depots in al-Kiswa area, in addition to the radar system battalion to the west of Al-Dour village in Suwayda Governorate.  The strikes killed three Iran-backed fighters. 
On 12–13 January, at least 10 airstrikes hit the mountains around Deir ez-Zor city killing 26 people, 14 Syrian soldiers and 12 Iranian-backed militiamen. Six airstrikes hit weapons warehouses and ammunition depots in Al-Bokamal desert killing 16 Iraqi militiamen. Two airstrikes targeted warehouses in Al-Mayadeen desert killing 15 foreign militia men. In total 18 airstrikes across Deir ez-Zor Governorate killed 57 in what was the highest death toll ever since Israel started its attacks on Syria.  
On 22 January, Israel carried out an airstrike near the city of Hama, killing a family of four, including two children. 
On 3 February, Israeli Air Force launched an attack on Hezbollah positions in Quneitra Governorate,  and other sites near Damascus International Airport. 
On 11 February, unidentified drones targeted a weapons shipment at an illegal military crossing, near Al-Bukamal in the eastern Deir Ezzor Governorate. 
On 15 February, Israeli airstrikes struck positions and warehouses, west and south-west of the capital Damascus, in the area of Damascus International Airport as well as Al-Kiswah and the headquarters of the Syrian Army's 4th Armoured Division.   Nine pro-Iranian militiamen were killed in the airstrikes. The dead were all of non-Syrian and non-Arab nationalities, and it is not known whether they were Afghans, Pakistanis or Iranians, as these militias are substantially deployed in the area near the Lebanese border. 
On 28 February, Iran-related sites were targeted around Damascus in what Hebrew media outlets suggest was a response to an Iranian attack against an Israeli-owned vessel in the Gulf of Oman the previous week. 
On 11 March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had used weaponry including naval mines to target a dozen of Iranian ships carrying oil or weapons to Syria in the past two years. 
On 16 March, a Syrian military source claimed that Israel attacked Iranian weapon shipments near Damascus. 
On April 22, Syria fired an SA-5 surface-to-air missile in response to what it claims was an Israeli airstrike near Damascus. The missile reportedly landed close to Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona, after Israel failed to intercept the missile. Israel retaliated by attacking a number of Syrian missile launchers, including the one that fired the projectile. 
On May 4, Israeli aircraft hit targets in northern Syria, killing one and wounding six. 
On May 5, Israeli forces attacked Hezbollah outposts near Quneitra on the Syrian border with Israel. 
On June 8, Israeli airstrikes took place in southern and central Syria, causing damage. 
Israeli War of Independence: Background & Overview
Violence in the Holy Land broke out almost immediately after the United Nations announced partition on November 29, 1947. Jamal Husseini, the Arab Higher Committee&rsquos spokesman, had told the UN prior to the partition vote the Arabs would drench &ldquothe soil of our beloved country with the last drop of our blood.&rdquo 1
Husseini&rsquos prediction began to come true after the UN announcement. The Arabs declared a protest strike and instigated riots that claimed the lives of 62 Jews and 32 Arabs. By the end of the second week, 93 Arabs, 84 Jews and 7 Englishmen had been killed and scores injured. From November 30-February 1, 427 Arabs, 381 Jews and 46 British were killed and 1,035 Arabs, 725 Jews and 135 British were wounded. In March alone, 271 Jews and 257 Arabs died in Arab attacks and Jewish counter­attacks. 2
The chairman of the Arab Higher Committee said the Arabs would &ldquofight for every inch of their country.&rdquo 3 Two days later, the holy men of Al-Azhar University in Cairo called on the Muslim world to proclaim a jihad (holy war) against the Jews. 4
The first large-scale assaults began on January 9, 1948, when approximately 1,000 Arabs attacked Jewish communities in northern Palestine. By February, the British said so many Arabs had infiltrated they lacked the forces to run them back. 5 In fact, the British turned over bases and arms to Arab irregulars and the Arab Legion.
In the first phase of the war, lasting from November 29, 1947 until April 1, 1948, the Palestinian Arabs took the offensive, with help from volunteers from neighboring countries. The Jews suffered severe casualties and passage along most of their major roadways was disrupted.
On May 4, 1948, the Arab Legion, commanded by a British officer, John Bagot Glubb, attacked Kfar Etzion, a bloc of four kibbutzim. The defenders drove them back, but the Legion returned a week later. After three days, the ill-equipped and outnumbered settlers were overwhelmed and surrendered. On the day Israel declared its independence, Legion fighters murdered 127 men and women, only three villagers escaped. 6 The defenders of three other kibbutzim were accorded the status of POWS and taken away. The entire bloc was then looted and destroyed.
Arabs Take Responsibility
The UN blamed the Arabs for the violence. The UN Palestine Commission was never permitted by the Arabs or British to go to Palestine to implement the resolution. On February 16, 1948, the Commission reported to the Security Council:
The Arabs were blunt in taking responsibility for starting the war. Jamal Husseini told the Security Council on April 16, 1948:
The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight. 9
The British commander of Jordan&rsquos Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb admitted:
Despite the disadvantages in numbers, organization and weapons, the Jews began to take the initiative in the weeks from April 1 until the declaration of independence on May 14. The Haganah captured several major towns including Tiberias and Haifa, and temporarily opened the road to Jerusalem.
The partition resolution was never suspended or rescinded. Thus, Israel, the Jewish State in Palestine, was born on May 14, as the British finally left the country. Five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq) immediately invaded Israel. Their intentions were declared by Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League: &ldquoIt will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.&rdquo 11
Before leaving Palestine, the British prodded the Arabs to go to war. They believed the Arabs would use their advantage in manpower and weapons to launch a lightning strike to seize the area designated for the Arab state and the Negev, which was given to the Jewish state. As the Jews mobilized and added to their arsenal, the British expected a counteroffensive that would give the Jews an advantage as Arab forces grew short of supplies and became demoralized. The British hoped to prevent this from happening by pushing for an early cease-fire. 11a
Superpowers Recognize Israel
Military Situation On Effective Date of Cease-Fire (June 11, 1948)
The United States, the Soviet Union and most other states immediately recognized Israel and indicted the Arabs. The United States urged a resolution charging the Arabs with breach of the peace.
Soviet delegate Andrei Gromyko told the Security Council, May 29, 1948:
The Old City Falls
In the early fighting the Arabs successfully cut the Old City of Jerusalem off from its supply routes. Hundreds of Jews left before the end of the British Mandate. By the time the war began, approximately 1,700 civilians remained in the Jewish Quarter. The city had been under siege for five months and had no more than 150 fighters with little training, few weapons and little ammunition.
Arab irregulars attack the city on May 16 and soon captured one-third of the Jewish Quarter. On the 18th, the Arab Legion joined the battle. By the 28th, the situation for the Jews had become dire and the Haganah asked for a ceasefire.
Two rabbis carrying a white flag of truce crossed into Arab territory to begin negotiations to surrender. They were followed by the head of the municipal government of the Jewish quarter of the Old City and two Israeli military officers who were told that younger men would be interned &ldquooutside of Palestine&rdquo and older ones turned over to the Red Cross. Women, noncombatants, and the wounded were to be sent to the Jewish lines on Mount Zion.
The JTA reported that &ldquoMany of the survivors are wounded and all are starved because there has been no food inside the Jewish lines for several days. Ammunition was extremely short and all Jews, concentrated in three houses, were exhausted.&rdquo
The same day the Palestine Post reported the Hurva Synagogue had been razed by Arabs. According to the report, the demolition of the holy place was timed to coincide with King Abdullah&rsquos pilgrimage to the Temple Mount where he prayed for the welfare of his army.
On May 30, the Palestine Post reported &ldquobold city defenders yield after epic resistance.&rdquo The Jewish Telegraphic Agency published this account:
Major Abdullah el-Tell recalled in his memoirs how devastating the defeat was for the Jews. &ldquoAl Quds was purged of Jews and for the first time in 1000 years no Jews remained there.&rdquo He added, &ldquoI have seen in this defeat of the Jews the heaviest blow rendered upon them, especially in terms of morale, since they were evicted from the Western Wall and from the Jewish Quarter, for the first time in 15 generations.&rdquo 12b
The initial phase of the fighting ended after the Security Council threatened July 15 to cite the Arab governments for aggression under the Charter. By this time, the Haganah had been renamed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and succeeded in stopping the Arab offensive.
When the British failed to secure a ceasefire to prevent the Jews from gaining an advantage, they tried to save the Arab forces by demanding an end to the fighting. If the Arabs survived the second stage, the British believed the fighting would become a &ldquowar of attrition,&rdquo which would allow them to wear down the Jewish forces.
The Bernadotte Plan
During the summer of 1948, Count Folke Bernadotte was sent by the UN to Palestine to mediate a truce and try to negotiate a settlement. The British had wanted the Arabs to seize the Negev, but when they failed to do so, they supported Bernadotte&rsquos plan, which called for the Jewish State to relinquish the Negev and Jerusalem to Transjordan and to receive the western Galilee. This was similar to the boundaries that had been proposed prior to the partition vote and had been rejected by all sides. Now, the proposal was being offered after the Arabs had gone to war to prevent partition and a Jewish state had been declared. The Jews and Arabs both rejected the plan.
Ironically, Bernadotte found little enthusiasm among the Arabs for independence. He wrote in his diary:
The failure of the Bernadotte scheme came as the Jews began to have greater success in repelling the invading Arab forces and expanding control over territory outside the partition boundaries.
The United States Holds Back Support
The Jews won their war of independence with minimal help from the West. In fact, they won despite efforts to undermine their military strength.
Although the United States vigorously supported the partition resolution, the State Department did not want to provide the Jews with the means to defend themselves. &ldquoOtherwise,&rdquo Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett argued, &ldquothe Arabs might use arms of U.S. origin against Jews, or Jews might use them against Arabs.&rdquo 14 Consequently, on December 5, 1947, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on the region.
Many in the State Department saw the embargo as another means of obstructing partition. President Truman nevertheless went along with it hoping it would be a means of averting bloodshed. This was naive given Britain&rsquos rejection of Lovett&rsquos request to suspend weapons shipments to the Arabs and subsequent agreements to provide additional arms to Iraq and Transjordan. 15
The Arabs had no difficulty obtaining all the arms they needed. In fact, Jordan&rsquos Arab Legion was armed and trained by the British and led by a British officer. The British also considered intervening by invoking its defense treaties with Egypt and Jordan if Israel attacked either country. At the end of 1948 and beginning of 1949, British RAF planes flew with Egyptian squadrons over the Israel-Egypt border. On January 7, 1949, Israeli planes shot down four of the British aircraft. 16
The Jews, on the other hand, were forced to smuggle weapons, principally from Czechoslovakia. When Israel declared its independence in May 1948, the army did not have a single cannon or tank. Its air force consisted of nine obsolete planes. Although the Haganah had 60,000 trained fighters, only 18,900 were fully mobilized, armed and prepared for war. 17 On the eve of the war, chief of operations Yigael Yadin told David Ben-Gurion: &ldquoThe best we can tell you is that we have a 50­-50 chance.&rdquo 18
A Costly Victory
The Arab war to destroy Israel failed. Indeed, because of their aggression, the Arabs wound up with less territory than they would have had if they had accepted partition.
The cost to Israel, however, was enormous. &ldquoMany of its most productive fields lay gutted and mined. Its citrus groves, for decades the basis of the Yishuv&rsquos [Jewish community] economy, were largely destroyed.&rdquo 19 Military expenditures totaled approximately $500 million. Worse yet, 6,373 Israelis were killed, nearly one percent of the Jewish population of 650,000.
Had the West enforced the partition resolution or given the Jews the capacity to defend themselves, many lives might have been saved.
Israel&rsquos longest war lasted 1 year 3 months and 10 days starting November 30, 1947. The Arab countries signed armistice agreements with Israel in 1949, starting with Egypt (Feb. 24), followed by Lebanon (March 23), Jordan (April 3) and Syria (July 20). Iraq was the only country that did not sign an agreement with Israel, choosing instead to withdraw its troops and hand over its sector to Jordan&rsquos Arab Legion.
When Israel declared its independence, historian Martin Kramer noted, Ben-Gurion decided not to draw the border based on the partition plan or the mandate. Ignoring legal experts who believed the state could not be declared without borders, he left out any reference to boundaries in the declaration, believing they would be determined by the outcome of the war. After the war, however, Israel agreed only to recognize armistice lines, which were &ldquonot to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial border.&rdquo Final borders, Israel insisted, would only be determined by peace treaties. 20
Sources: 1 J.C. Hurewitz, The Struggle For Palestine, (NY: Shocken Books, 1976), p. 308.
2 Facts on File Yearbook, (NY: Facts on File, Inc., 1948), p. 231.
3 New York Times, (December 1, 1947).
4 Facts on File 1948, p. 48.
5 Facts on File 1947, p. 231.
6 Netanel Lorch, One Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter Books, 1976), p. 47 Ralph Patai, ed., Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, (NY: McGraw Hill, 1971), pp. 307­308.
7 Howard Sachar, A History of Israel, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 322.
8 Security Council Official Records, Special Supplement, (1948), p. 20.
9 Security Council Official Records, S/Agenda/58, (April 16, 1948), p. 19.
10 John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, (London: Staughton and Hodder, 1957), p. 79.
11 &ldquoInterview with Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha,&rdquo Akhbar al-Yom (Egypt), (October 11, 1947) translated by R. Green.
11a Meir Zamir, &ldquoIntelligence Documents Reveal What Ben-Gurion Learned on the Eve of Declaring Israel&rsquos Independence,&rdquo Haaretz, (May 18, 2020)
12 Security Council Official Records, SA/Agenda/77, (May 29, 1948), p. 2.
12a &ldquoOld City of Jerusalem Falls to Arabs Jews Gain in Battle for Tel Aviv Highway,&rdquo JTA, (May 30, 1948).
12b Maoz Azaryahu and Arnon Golan, &ldquoPhotography, Memory, and Ethnic Cleansing: The Fate of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, 1948 &ndash John Phillips&rsquo Pictorial Record,&rdquo Israel Studies, Vol. 17, No. 5, (Summer 2012), pp. 62- 76.
13 Folke Bernadotte, To Jerusalem, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951), p. 113.
14 Foreign Relations of the United States 1947, (DC: GPO, 1948), p. 1249. [Henceforth FRUS].
15 Mitchell Bard, The Water&rsquos Edge and Beyond, (NJ: Transaction Books, 1991), pp. 171­175 FRUS, pp. 537­39 Robert Silverberg, If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem: American Jews and the State of Israel, (NY: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1970), pp. 366, 370 Shlomo Slonim, &ldquoThe 1948 American Embargo on Arms to Palestine,&rdquo Political Science Quarterly, (Fall 1979), p. 500.
16 Sachar, p. 345.
17 Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem!, (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1972), p. 352.
18 Golda Meir, My Life, (NY: Dell, 1975), pp. 213, 222, 224
19 Sachar, p. 452.
20 Martin Kramer, &ldquoThe Significance of San Remo,&rdquo Mosaic, (February 15, 2021).
Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library
BREAKING: Israel Sabotaged Iranian Ship, Caused Massive Oil Spill on Own Shores
The Iranian tanker damaged by mines in Red Sea in 2019 in attack similar to the Emerald (note: this image accompanying the Wall Street Journal article linked here, is not the Emerald, as I first wrote)
חשיפה: ישראל היא שגרמה לאסון הזפת. שייטת 13 תקפה את המכלית “אמרלד” שהייתה בדרך לסוריה, אך הפיצוץ גרם לנזק גדול בהרבה מהצפוי ולדליפה ענקית של נפט גולמי
با خرابکاری در کشتی نفتی ایران، اسرائیل ناحیه وسیعی از ساحل خود را آلوده کرد
Today, US officials reported that Israel had been mining Iranian oil tankers in retaliation for similar Iranian attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf:
Since late 2019, Israel has used weaponry including water mines to strike Iranian vessels or those carrying Iranian cargo as they navigate toward Syria in the Red Sea and in other areas of the region.
Image of the Emerald when it was owned by Libyan oil company under prior name
The US reports did not offer details about specific attacks. But a high level Israeli government official told me that Israel not only had done this, but he offered details on one of the attacks. But before saying more about this, some background is in order.
A few weeks ago, a then-unknown tanker deposited 1,000 tons of oil into the Mediterranean close to Israeli shores. The oil eventually washed up on Israel’s beaches causing the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history. Sea animals were coated in sludge and turtles and a whale died as a result. Thousands of Israeli volunteered to clean up the mess. Israel’s famous beaches have been off limits for weeks.
At first, Israel blamed a Greek oil tanker which had been in the vicinity of the original oil spill. But later it admitted that this identification was wrong. Then the Israeli environment minister, Gila Gamliel, blamed Iran for the catastrophe. She purportedly did so without consulting Israeli intelligence officials, . She claimed that a, Iranian ship, the Emerald, had left an Iranian port loaded with oil. Its destination was Syria, which maintains regular trade with Iran. Because of international sanctions, Iran’s ability to sell its oil is limited and it must resort to these sorts of ad hoc commercial relationships.
When Gamliel pinned the blame, there was something like consternation within the Israeli intelligence apparatus. Officials told the press they knew nothing about her claim and that she hadn’t consulted with them. It made her look lame and I reported as such here. But my Israeli source tells me that she was indeed correct. The Emerald did cause the oil spill. But how did it happen? The information conveyed to me by the source is under Israeli military censorship, as you will see below.
This was not a deliberate attack by Iran on Israel as Gamliel claimed. In fact, It was precisely the reverse. It was a deliberate attack by Israel on the Iranian vessel. Israel’s naval commando unit, Shayetet 13 (they were the ones who murdered 10 Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara) covertly attached a mine to the Emerald. The intent was to cause minor damage that would send a message to Iran that its own attacks on Gulf shipping would bring a cost. This Times of London report written by Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeiffer confirms my source:
They [Israeli attacks on the Emerald and other Iranian vessels] would have been planned jointly by Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence service, and military intelligence, which together have responsibility for tracking Iranian targets, and would have been carried out by Flotilla 13, the special operations unit of the navy.
However, the commandos didn’t realize that the Emerald was a rusty old hulk in desperately ill-repair. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal characterized some of the ships used to skirt Iran sanctions:
Shippers often declare false destinations, use old, rusted tankers to avoid notice, and sometimes transfer oil from one ship to another at sea to avoid detection, regional military officials said.
The Israeli mine, which was supposed to cause minor damage, actually ripped a hole so big that much of the contents of the ship’s hold leaked into the Mediterranean. This is what caused the Israeli environmental disaster: Israel itself.
The WSJ article in fact, whether intentionally or unintentionally, referred implicitly to the Emerald oil shipment and the sabotage:
In an episode last month, suspected Israeli operatives attached a limpet mine to attack an Iranian vessel as it anchored near Lebanon to deliver Iran oil to Syria, according to the first shipping professional. Israel’s military declined to comment on the incident.
It’s worth nothing that Gamliel, in pointing the finger of blame at the Iranians and the Emerald said that after its oil leaked into the sea it continued on to a Syrian port. After which, it returned to Iran.
The Times of London also adds this telling detail:
The [Israeli] attacks [on Iranian shipping] caused at least one big oil spill, in the Red Sea in October 2019, according to reports from Washington. Another spill, along the Israeli and Lebanese coasts in the past month, was blamed by Israeli politicians on a tanker carrying crude oil from Iran to Syria but will now be viewed in a different light.
Pfeffer published his story in The Times rather than Haaretz, because the military censor prohibited him from doing so. So he evaded the censor by publishing with a foreign news outlet. This is a further sign that the Israeli military does not wants its own citizens to know that it caused a national environmental catastrophe. And the censor does so under the false guise of protecting national security.
My Israeli source offered his characterization of the disaster:
“Yes, Israel is responsible for its own environmental catastrophe. Like the Beirut explosion, a planned “small” sabotage operation ended in a disaster. Shayetet 13 sabotaged The Emerald intending to cause a small hole that would prevent it continuing on its way to Syria, but Israeli intelligence had no idea about how old and rusty the tanker was. The result: a giant oil spill that hit Israeli -and also Lebanese – shores.”
Israeli intelligence is supposed to be among the best in the world. But remember the Lillehammer fiasco, where Mossad assassins murdered an innocent Moroccan waiter instead of the intended target, an alleged Palestinian plotter of the Munich massacre. There, Israeli hubris and determination to exact revenge against its enemies led to false assumptions and eventual disaster. So regarding Iran, Israeli intelligence has an incessant need to thump its chest to show, like a gorilla, dominance over the rest of the pack. This hubris led to the oil spill disaster.
There is a historical echo of this tragedy in the story of the SS Patria, a ship carrying 1,800 Jewish refugees from Holocaust-era Europe in 1940. It was docked in Haifa, but British authorities refused to permit its passengers to disembark. The Yishuv leadership strongly opposed the British refusal. It decided it would sabotage the ship so that it could not leave the harbor and return to Europe. Haganah fighters attached an explosive charge to the hull. But they erred in calculating the power of the device. Instead of disabling the navigation system, it tore off an entire side of the vessel, which actually sank in sixteen minutes. This caused the deaths of nearly 300 refugees.
It’s worth emphasizing as well, that the Emerald story would never have leaked without the involvement of US intelligence, which presumably is the source of today’s story. This is the second such leak which is damaging to the Netanyahu government. Biden knew that eventually the media would connect the dots and tie the story leaked today to the Emerald itself. He knew it would damage Israel’s reputation and discredit the Israeli prime minister’s entire rejectionist approach to Iran.
Though the US hasn’t exactly been Johnny-on-the-spot in terms of fulfilling its promise to return to the JCPOA, it knows that when it does so it will face a ferocious backlash from Republicans and from Israel. This leak is a pre-emptive attack. Such a scandal will set Netanyahu back on his heels. It will also potentially embarrass in the run up to the elections happening in the next two weeks.
If my suggestion about US motives is wrong and it was instead intending to threaten Iran, and remind it that this country continues to support Israel in its barely concealed war against it, then this leak (in both senses of the word) will be quite damaging to that effort.
I asked the Department of Defense to comment on reports that US intelligence has coordinated with Israel in these maritime attacks. Instead of commenting, the press officer referred me to the Israeli government. I thought it quite odd considering I wasn’t asking a US government official about Israel’s role. I was asking if the US had played any role in the attacks.
|July 13, 1956||Gaza Strip||Egypt||Mustafa Hafez||Egyptian Army Lieutenant-Colonel, responsible for recruiting refugees to carry out attacks in Israel.||Parcel bomb ||Israel Defense Forces operation directed by Yehoshafat Harkabi.|
|July 14, 1956||Amman||Jordan||Salah Mustafa||Egyptian Military attache|
|September 11, 1962||Munich||West Germany||Heinz Krug||West German rocket scientist working for Egypt's missile program||Abducted from his company offices on Munich's Schillerstrasse, his body was never found. Swiss police later arrested two Mossad agents for threatening the daughter of another scientist and found that they were responsible for the killing. Part of Operation Damocles.||Mossad     |
|November 28, 1962||Heluan||Egypt||5 Egyptian factory workers||Workers employed at Factory 333, an Egyptian rocket factory.||Letter bomb sent bearing Hamburg post mark. Another such bomb disfigured and blinded a secretary. Part of Operation Damocles.|
|February 23, 1965||Montevideo||Uruguay||Herberts Cukurs||Aviator who had been involved in the murders of Latvian Jews during the Holocaust ||Lured to and killed in Montevideo by agents under the false pretense of starting an aviation business.|
|July 8, 1972||Beirut||Lebanon||Ghassan Kanafani||Palestinian writer and a leading member of the PFLP, who had claimed responsibility for the Lod Airport massacre on behalf of the PFLP. ||Killed by car bomb.||Mossad       |
|July 25, 1972||Attempted killing of Bassam Abu Sharif||Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Information Office. He held a press conference with Ghassan Kanafani during the Dawson's Field hijackings justifying the PFLP's actions.||He lost four fingers, and was left deaf in one ear and blind in one eye, after a book sent to him that was implanted with a bomb exploded in his hands.   |
|October 16, 1972||Rome||Italy||Abdel Wael Zwaiter||Libyan embassy employee, cousin of Yassir Arafat,  PLO representative, poet and multilingual translator, considered by Israel to be a terrorist for his alleged role in the Black September group and the Munich massacre,  though Aaron Klein states that 'uncorroborated and improperly cross-referenced intelligence information tied him to a support group' for Black September. ||Shot 12 times by two Mossad gunmen as he waited for an elevator to his apartment near Piazza Avellino.  |
|December 8, 1972||Paris||France||Mahmoud Hamshari||PLO representative in France and coordinator of the Munich Olympic Games massacre. ||Killed by bomb concealed in his telephone. |
|January 24, 1973||Nicosia||Cyprus||Hussein Al Bashir a.k.a. Hussein Abu-Khair/Hussein Abad.||Fatah representative in Nicosia, Cyprus and PLO liaison officer with the KGB. ||Killed by bomb in his hotel room bed. |
|April 6, 1973||Paris||France||Basil Al-Kubaissi||PFLP member and American University of Beirut Professor of International Law||Killed on a street in Paris by two Mossad agents. |
|April 9, 1973||Beirut||Lebanon||Kamal Adwan||Black September commander and member of the Fatah central committee ||Killed in his apartment in front of his children during Operation Spring of Youth, either shot 55 times or killed with a grenade.   ||Sayeret Matkal led by Ehud Barak|
|Muhammad Youssef Al-Najjar||Black September Operations officer and PLO official||Shot dead in his apartment together with his wife during Operation Spring of Youth. ||Sayeret Matkal together with Mossad.  |
|Kamal Nasser||Palestinian Christian poet, advocate of non-violence and PLO spokesman||Shot dead in his apartment during Operation Spring of Youth. According to Palestinian sources his body was left as if hanging from a cross. A woman neighbour was shot dead when she opened her door during the operation. ||Sayeret Matkal |
|April 11, 1973||Athens||Greece||Zaiad Muchasi||Fatah representative to Cyprus||Killed in hotel room. ||Mossad   |
|June 28, 1973||Paris||France||Mohammad Boudia||Black September operations officer||Killed by pressure-activated mine under his car seat. |
|July 21, 1973||Lillehammer||Norway||Attempted killing of Ali Hassan Salameh||High-ranked leader in the PLO and Black September who was behind the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre ||Ahmed Bouchiki, an innocent waiter believed to be Ali Hassan Salameh, killed by gunmen. Known as the Lillehammer affair.|
|March 27, 1978||East Berlin||East Germany||Wadie Haddad||PFLP commander, who masterminded several plane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s. ||He apparently died of cancer in an East Berlin hospital, reportedly untraced by Mossad.  Mossad never claimed responsibility. Aaron Klein states that Mossad passed on through a Palestinian contact a gift of chocolates laced with a slow poison, which effectively caused his death several months later. |
|January 22, 1979||Beirut||Lebanon||Ali Hassan Salameh||High-ranked leader in the PLO and Black September who was behind the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre ||Killed by a remote-controlled car bomb,  along with four bodyguards and four innocent bystanders.|
|June 13, 1980||Paris||France||Yehia El-Mashad||Egyptian nuclear scientist, lecturer at Alexandria University||Killed in his room at the Méridien Hotel in Operation Sphinx.   : 23 Marie-Claude Magal, prostitute, client of El-Meshad, pushed under a car and killed in the Boulevard Saint-Germain.  : 24||Mossad|
|September 1981||São Paulo||Brazil||José Alberto Albano do Amarante||A Brazilian Air Force lieutenant colonel, assassinated by the Israeli intelligence service to prevent Brazil from becoming a nuclear nation. ||He was contaminated by radioactive material. ||Samuel Giliad or Guesten Zang, a Mossad agent, an Israeli born in Poland. |
|August 21, 1983||Athens||Greece||Mamoun Meraish||Senior PLO official||Shot in his car from motorcycle. ||Mossad|
|June 9, 1986||Khalid Nazzal||Secretary of the DFLP (Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine)||Killed in Athens by Mossad agents who entered Greece with fake passports, shot Nazzal while leaving his hotel, and fled the country.||Mossad|
|October 21, 1986||Munther Abu Ghazaleh||High-ranked leader in the PLO. Senior member of the National Palestinian Council, the Revolutionary Council of Al Fatah and the Supreme Military Council of the Revolutionary Palestinian Forces.||Killed by a car bomb||Mossad|
|April 16, 1988||Tunis||Tunisia||Abu Jihad||Second-in-command to Yassir Arafat||Shot dead in front of his family in the Tunis Raid by Israeli commandos under the direction of Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon, and condemned as a political assassination by the United States State Department.  ||Israel Defense Forces|
|July 14, 1989||Alexandria||Egypt||Said S. Bedair||Egyptian scientist in electrical, electronic and microwave engineering and a colonel in the Egyptian army||Fell to his death from the balcony of his brother's apartment in Camp Chezar, Alexandria, Egypt. His veins were found cut and a gas leak was detected in the apartment. Arabic and Egyptian sources claim that the Mossad assassinated him in a way that appears as a suicide.||?|
|March 20, 1990||Brussels||Belgium||Gerald Bull||Canadian engineer and designer of the Project Babylon "supergun" for Saddam Hussein's government||Shot at door to his apartment||Attributed to Mossad by several sources,  and widely believed to be a Mossad operation by intelligence experts,  Gordon Thomas states it was the work of Mossad's director Nahum Admoni.  Israel denied involvement at the time.  and several other countries had interests in seeing him dead.|
|February 16, 1992||Nabatieh Governorate||Lebanon||Abbas al-Musawi||Secretary-General of Hezbollah||After 3 IDF soldiers were killed by Palestinian militants of the PIJ during a training exercise at Gal'ed in Israel, Israel retaliated by killing Musawi in his car, together with his wife Sihan and 5-year-old child Hussein, with seven missiles launched from two Apache Israeli helicopters.  Hezbollah retaliated by the attacking Israel's embassy in Argentina. ||Israel Defense Forces |
|June 8, 1992||Paris||France||Atef Bseiso||Palestinian official involved in Munich Massacre||Shot several times in the head at point-blank range by 2 gunmen, in his hotel (Aaron Klein's "Striking Back")||Mossad, with French complicity, according to the PLO, but French security sources suggested the hand of Abu Nidal.  |
|October 26, 1995||Sliema||Malta||Fathi Shaqaqi||Head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad||Shot and killed in front of Diplomat Hotel. ||Mossad. |
|January 6, 1996||Beit Lahia||Gaza Strip||Yahya Ayyash||"The Engineer", Hamas bomb maker||Head blown off by cell phone bomb in Osama Hamad's apartment, responding to a call from his father. Osama's father, Kamal Hamad, was a known collaborator with Israel, and it was bruited in Israel that he had betrayed his son's friend for $1 million, a fake passport and a U.S. visa.  ||Covert Israeli operation |
|September 25, 1997||Amman||Jordan||Khaled Mashaal (failed attempt)||Hamas political leader||Attempted poisoning. Israel provided antidote, after pressure by Clinton. Canada withdrew Ambassador.||Two Mossad agents with Canadian passports arrested|
- 2000, September 29–2001, April 25. According to Palestinian sources, the IDF assassinated 13 political activists in Area A under full Palestinian Authority, with 9 civilian casualties. 
- 2001 Israel killed 35 suspected Palestinian militants. 
- 2002 Israel killed 72 suspected militants. 
- 2003 (August) The Israeli government authorized the killing of Hamas's entire political leadership in Gaza, 'without further notice,' in a method called 'the hunting season' in order to strengthen the position of moderates and Mahmoud Abbas.
- 2005 In February Israel announced a suspension of targeted killings, while reserving the right to kill allegedly 'ticking bombs'. 
|January 11, 2010||Deir al-Balah||Gaza Strip||Awad Abu Nasir||Islamic Jihad Senior Field Commander||Had escaped several assassination attempts. Reportedly involved in attempts to harm Israeli soldiers. Killed by a missile.  ||Israeli Air Force |
|January 12, 2010||Tehran||Iran||Masoud Alimohammadi||Iranian Physicist||Killed in a car bomb. Majid Jamali Fashi reportedly confessed to an Iranian court he had been recruited by Mossad to carry out the execution, while the US State Department called the allegation "absurd".||Mossad (alleged) |
|January 19, 2010||Dubai||United Arab Emirates||Mahmoud al-Mabhouh||Hamas senior military commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, believed to have been involved in smuggling weapons and explosives into Gaza. ||Widely reported to have been killed by Israeli intelligence members. Israel stated that there is no proof of its involvement, and neither confirmed nor denied the allegations of a Mossad role.   Dubai police report that Israeli agents used Australian, French, British, Irish, and Dutch passports.|
|July 30, 2010||Deserted area in the Nuseirat refugee camp||Gaza Strip||Issa Abdul-Hadi al-Batran (40)||Hamas Senior military commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in central Gaza, who had survived 4 previous attempts on his life (26 Jan.2009). Thought to have been involved in manufacturing rockets.||Killed by a missile in retaliation for the earlier rocket attack on the city of Ashkelon. A further 13 Palestinians were injured in the strike.  ||Israeli Air Force|
|November 3, 2010||Gaza Strip||Mohammed Nimnim||Allegedly al-Qaeda affiliated, Army of Islam commander ||Car explosion, due to either a bomb planted by Israel or an Israeli airstrike. ||Israeli Air Force, with Egyptian intelligence.|
|November 17, 2010||Gaza Strip||Islam Yassin||al-Qaeda affiliated, Army of Islam commander ||Israeli airstrike on his car, killing him, his brother, and injuring four others. ||Israeli Air Force|
|January 11, 2011||Gaza Strip||Mohammed A-Najar||Islamic Jihad operative.||Suspected of planning attacks against civilians and launching rockets at Israel |
Attacked by the Israel Airforce while driving his motorcycle in the Gaza Strip. 
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
The Southern Kingdom consisted of 2 tribes (Judah and Benjamin). The kingdom extended in the north as far as Bethel, while in the south it ended in the dry area known as the Negev. Its eastern and western boundaries were the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem was its capital and it lasted from about 922-586 B.C.
Judah was left suddenly independent when Rehoboam flatly refused to lighten the heavy load of forced labor and high taxation imposed on the Israelites by his father Solomon (1 Kin. 12:1-24). Upon Rehoboam's refusal, the ten tribes living north of Bethel promptly declared their independence.
But something else occurred along with this Division. An entirely unexpected blow that devastated Judah. Shishak, Pharaoh of Egypt, invaded the country, plundered the treasures of the Temple and the royal palace, and destroyed a number of newly built fortresses (2 Chr. 12:1-12). Judah never recovered from the sudden loss of her national wealth. Because her land was not as fertile as that of the northern kingdom of Israel, Judah never enjoyed the same degree of prosperity. Rehoboam wanted to attack Israel and reunite the kingdom by force, but a Word from the Lord came to Shemaiah the prophet saying,
I Kings 12:24 'Thus says the LORD: "You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel."
Judah had somewhat of a better record. Only 8 of Judah's kings served God. These were: Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah. The rest of the 20 kings were wicked. In the southern kingdom there was only one dynasty, that of king David, except usurper Athaliah from the northern kingdom, who by marriage, broke into David's line, and interrupted the succession for 6 years, 20 kings in all. An average of about 16 years to a reign.
Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram (about 848-841 B.C.) married Athaliah, daughter of king Ahab and the wicked Queen Jezebel and their marriage led to Baal worship also being established in Jerusalem (2 Kin. 8:18). Jehoram's son Ahaziah reigned only for one year (841 B.C.) before he was killed. The pagan queen-mother Athaliah seized the throne and nearly brought the Davidic line to extinction by killing most of Ahaziah's sons. Only the infant Joash escaped he was rescued by his aunt Jehoshabeath and her husband Jehoiada, the godly high priest (2 Chr. 22:10-12). After six years Joash was proclaimed the lawful king, and Athaliah was executed.
Baal worship climaxed in Judah during the reign of Ahaz (2 Ki 16). Ahaz (about 732-715 B.C.), was faced with Assyria's rise to power under TiglathPileser III but Ahaz resisted the urgings of Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel to join an alliance against Assyria. Instead, Ahaz sought help from Assyria, against the prophet Isaiah's advice, and received assistance in return for heavy tribute. Syria and the kingdom of Israel were destroyed in 722 B.C., leaving Judah at the mercy of the Assyrians.
When Hezekiah (about 714-686 B. C.) succeeded Ahaz, he also disregarded Isaiah's advice and became involved in a coalition with Babylonia and Egypt against Assyria. Assyria, now ruled by Sennacherib, moved against Jerusalem in 701 B. C. It was at this time that Hezekiah constructed the Siloam Tunnel to bring water from the Spring of Gihon into the city of Jerusalem (2 Chr. 32:30). But then something very strange happened. Somehow, miraculously the Assyrians withdrew from attacking Jerusalem after suffering heavy losses, perhaps from a plague. History leaves a big question mark at this point. Why didn't Sennacherib build a seige mound against Jerusalem and completely conquer it? The Bible reveals something very interesting:
Isa 37:33-38 "Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: 'He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return and he shall not come into this city,' says the LORD. 'For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.' "Then the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses-- all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
Revival came during the reign of Hezekiah but it was immediately swept aside by Manasseh, who was Judah's most wicked and longest ruling king. The nation never fully recovered from the effects of this evil king. Manasseh's son Amon continued in his father's depravity, but he soon was murdered. His successor Josiah (about 640-609 B.C.) restored traditional covenant religion, which was based on the Book of the Law newly discovered in a Temple storeroom (2 Chr. 34:14). Many did not follow Josiah's example, however, and the prophet Zephaniah foretold disaster for the nation. By 610 B.C. the Assyrian Empire had collapsed under Babylonian attacks, and Babylon prepared to march against Egypt, which had been helping the Assyrians. Against Jeremiah's advice, Josiah intervened and was killed at Megiddo.
After Josiah there was no hope for Judah, the last 3 kings were all evil. The Babylonians swept down upon Jerusalem in 597 B. C. and captured it. A second attack led to Jerusalem's second defeat in 586 B. C. Captives from both campaigns were taken to Babylonia to mark the captivity of the Southern Kingdom.