The Security Cabinet met in a hastily planned session Monday afternoon to discuss the implications of the attack on Syrian military bases early Monday, as Syrian military sources quoted in local media said they had discovered “evidence” that Israel was behind the attack.
The sources said that remains of GBU-35 “smart precision missiles” – missiles that can pinpoint targets and provide a great deal of explosive power in a small amount of explosives – were found at the site of at least one of the bases hit. Israel is known to have these weapons, which were acquired from the United States. The missiles were delivered by F-35 airplanes, the sources said. Neither Israel nor the United States has made any comment on the matter.
Analysts on Hadashot News said they did not expect a Syrian or Iranian response to the attack, especially as Iran itself denied any losses in the attack. However, a source in the pro-Shiite Iranian-backed forces in Syria said that Iran had indeed lost at least 11 of its personnel in the attacks, with a total of 16 killed.
Over 200 missiles that had been stored at the facilities in Homs in central Syria and near Aleppo in the north of the country were destroyed, and images in Syrian media showed major damage to the sites.
As a result of the Security Cabinet meeting, party meetings that had been scheduled for Likud, Kulanu and Jewish Home were canceled. The meetings were considered especially important as the Knesset begins its summer session later Monday afternoon.
The Security Cabinet, government sources said, would also be discussing an “important development” in the matter of the international agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. Israel has long accused Iran of using the agreement as a fig leaf to continue with its nuclear development program, and in recent months the United States has adopted that stance as well.
On Sunday, Netanyahu met with new U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. After the meeting Pompeo said that the U.S. “remains deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats toward Israel and the region.” Strong ties with Israel, he added, are “critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world.”
Before arriving in Israel on Sunday, Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia, like Israel a staunch enemy of Iran, which Riyadh has accused of seeking to foment a religious war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Speaking at a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Pompeo said that “the Iran deal in its current form does not” provide assurance that Iran will never achieve a nuclear weapon, something that he said the United States was “determined to make sure” never happens.”We will continue to work with our European allies to fix that deal. But if a deal cannot be reached, the President has said that he will leave that deal,” he said.
While there was no perceived immediate threat from Iran or Syria, residents of central Israel – specifically, the Shomron – reported that flights to and from Ben Gurion airport had apparently been diverted from their regular flight patterns, instead using routes over western Shomron. The route changes, according to residents, began before dawn and continued well into the morning. Foreign airlines generally do not use flight patterns over Shomron because of the region’s political status. Residents said that the last time this occurred was in the summer of 2014 – during the midst of Operation Protective Edge, when flights that usually enter Israel from south of Tel Aviv had their flight patterns changed in order to ensure they were not hit by Hamas missiles.
There was no confirmation from any authority that the flight patterns on Monday had been changed for security purposes, or that they had indeed been changed at all.