Skip to main content

Memo from Israel: Game still on in Syria

Israel's most recent airstrikes against positions in Syria was a declaration of intent, to signal to all parties that the game continues and the rules have not changed.
Israeli Air Force F-35 flies during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC1E7D135800

On Dec. 26, the Israel Air Force (IAF) held a graduation ceremony for its 177th pilot-training course at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev Desert. The cadets received their wings and became full-fledged pilots. The timing of the event, scheduled months in advance, proved to be particularly sensitive. Just a few hours earlier, according to foreign media reports, the air force had struck targets in the Damascus area. The reported strike followed a lengthy hiatus in similar attacks stemming from tensions between Israel and Russia over the Sept. 17 accidental downing of a Russian Ilyushin military aircraft off the Syrian coast by Syrian forces.

As is customary at such graduation ceremonies, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech as did the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and the highly respected IAF chief, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. Each referred obliquely to the events in the skies over Damascus.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.