Israel does not need to take threats by Syria that it might attack Ben Gurion Airport too seriously, former head of IDF Intelligence, Yaakov Amidror, said in an interview Wednesday. While Syria did have missiles that could reach the heartland of Israel, “the balance of power between us and Syria is such that an attack on our assets would give us the excuse we need to hit them so hard that it would probably mean the end of the current Syrian government. I do not see the Syrians taking that risk,” he told 103 Radio.
Syrian missiles could theoretically also hit planes taking off from Ben Gurion Airport, but here, too, Syria would be risking a massive Israeli response. In addition, Israel’s missile defense systems would be able to intercept and destroy those missiles before they hit their target, he added.
Amidror was responding to comments by Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations. On Sunday, Israeli forces slammed Syrian targets where Iran has been operating, destroying weapons warehouses and other assets used by Iran. Among the targets was a section of Damascus Airport. Speaking before the Security Council, Bashar Ja’afari said that Damascus could give as good as it gets. “Isn’t it high time for this council to take the necessary measures to stop the repeated Israeli aggression against the territories of my country?” he asked. “Or should we attract the attention of the war makers in this council, by exercising our legitimate right to self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression against the Damascus International Civil Airport by launching an aggression against the Tel Aviv airport?”
At a press conference Monday, IDF spokesperson Ronen Manelis said that Israel’s extensive raid in Syria overnight Sunday was in response to the missile fired earlier Sunday at the Golan Heights – where thousands of people were enjoying a snow-covered Mount Hermon. “The missile fired Sunday afternoon could have harmed civilians,” Manelis said. “The missile was fired from the Damascus area, and it was an Iranian missile fired by Iranian personnel from an area that Israel was promised Iran would not operate from,” he said, referring to discussions Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had with international leaders in recent months, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The target of the IDF bombers that operated in Syria, he said, was “a very significant weapons warehouse in Damascus Airport. The fact that it was a weapons warehouse is the reason there were so many explosions. Before we attacked, and during the attack, we warned Syria against firing such missiles. They fired dozens of rockets at our soldiers, and as a result we ordered the destruction of a Syrian defense system.”
The Syrian regime, he said, “is taking a huge chance when it allows the Iranians to use its civilian airports. Some of the targets we hit were in Syrian army bases, which the Syrians allow the Iranians to use. They are endangering themselves and as such are paying a high price. Iran is using Syria and the Syrians are paying the price,” he added.