An Iranian drone, which was launched from a Syrian base in the Homs desert, was identified approaching Israeli airspace by the IDF at around 4 a.m. on Saturday, setting off alarms across the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley.
The drone entered Israel via Jordanian airspace, flying for a minute and a half before it was intercepted by an Israel Air Force Apache helicopter near the town of Beit She’an.
Brig.-Gen. Tomer Bar, chief of the IAF Staff, the air force’s second in command, said the drone was an advanced model with a low electromagnetic signature that Israel had never intercepted before.
“We waited for it to cross into our territory,” he said, stressing that it was important for Israel “to get our hands on the drone.”
According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis, while the drone was Iranian and navigated by Iranian operators, Syria’s choice to fire its air defenses against Israeli jets shows that it has chosen to interfere in Israel’s fight against the Islamic Republic’s activity in the country.
“Iran’s mask has been removed. It is clear that they are using Syria as a launchpad for activity against Israel,” he said. “Iran is dragging the region into an adventure and will pay the price for it.
In response, Israeli aircraft targeted the drone’s launch site deep inside Syria, in a “complicated surgical strike,” in the face of heavy antiaircraft missile fire.
“It was the most extensive Syrian antiaircraft attack since 1982,” Bar said, stressing that, nonetheless, “we consider this to be a fully successful operation. Israel’s air superiority was not affected today.”
Two Israeli crew members were wounded after ejecting from their F-16I when they recognized that one of the enemy missiles had locked onto their jet, which then crashed near the entrance to Kibbutz Harduf in the Beit Netofa Valley in the Lower Galilee.