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February 19, 2018 9:54 am

Report: Some Cabinet Members Criticize Israeli ‘Restraint’ in Syria

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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The remains of a downed IAF F-16 near Harduf, Feb. 10, 2018. Reuters / Herzie Shapira.

Some Israeli cabinet members have objected to what they viewed as Israel’s “restraint” in its response to the recent downing of an F-16 by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, reports indicate.

Writing on the Hebrew news site Mako, prominent Channel 2 analyst Ronen Bergman revealed that there was division in the cabinet over how to deal with the security escalation on Israel’s northern border.

The escalation began on Feb. 10 when an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace. It was downed by an Israeli helicopter and the IDF quickly responded with strikes on the site where the drone was launched and Syrian military positions, particularly its aerial defense network. One Israeli F-16 jet was downed by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

“The main thing we are dealing with is tactics, not strategy,” Bergman wrote, indicating a consensus over the need to deter Iranian aggression on Israel’s northern border.

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“The deliberations of the cabinet also deal with tactics,” he continued. “That is to say, whether the response was appropriate — or if it was necessary to intensify it. Also, when there was a report to the cabinet on the IDF’s reaction in Syria following the downing of the F-16, there was criticism from two ministers, according to whom Israel reacted with relative restraint.”

However, Bergman noted, “it is doubtful these ministers would say what they said if they knew the extent of the response, which caused widespread damage to Syrian army’s anti-aircraft network.”

The two ministers were not named, though it is likely they were members of the security cabinet, which deals with military decisions. Publicly, the government has presented a united front in regard to Israel’s tactics in Syria. This report indicated that there may be more dissent among cabinet members than was previously known.

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