Jayloomia denies report of Russia’s second summoning of Israel envoy
JPost, Reuters, Mar 20 2017
The Foreign Ministry denied Hebrew media reports on Monday that Israel’s ambassador to Russia was summoned to speak with Moscow government officials for a second time in less than a week. Ministry spox Emmanuel Nashon told the JPost that the reports “were not true.” However, Interfax quoted a ministry official as saying on Monday that Moscow had summoned Israel’s ambassador for clarification on an Israeli military strike near Palmyra. Hours earlier, Syrian media reported that Israeli forces had struck Hezbollah targets on the Syrian-Lebanese border, allegedly the second such action in one week. The reported assault came just a day after an Israeli drone reportedly struck a vehicle in the Quneitra countryside, killing the driver, Yasser al-Sayed, who was a commander in Syria’s air defense unit, according to Channel 2 on Sunday. Syrian media reported earlier on Sunday that regime forces had “repelled” an Israeli reconnaissance drone near the town of Khan Arnaba, close to where Friday morning’s IAF strike occurred. The air force’s Arrow anti-aircraft missile defense system intercepted a Syrian SA-5 missile fired at Israeli jets on Friday night. The jets had already returned to Israeli airspace when they were attacked, after striking targets in Syria. Later on Friday, Ambassador Gary Koren was asked to speak to Russian officials in regard to Israel’s air strike in Syria near the city of Palmyra. According to Channel 2, the strike hit close to Russian troops. The Foreign Ministry confirmed Koren’s meeting with the Russians, just one day after the ambassador presented his credentials, but did not expand on its content. Following this weekend’s events, Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar al Jafari said in a statement Monday:
They changed the rules of the game! … Next time Israel will need to think a million times over before striking in Syria!
Syrian UN Envoy: Israel’s Freedom to Act in Syria Is Over
Jack Khoury, Haaretz, Mar 20 2017
Russia has sent a clear message to Israel that the rules of the game have changed in Syria, and its freedom to act in Syrian skies is over, Syria’s ambassador to the UN said on Sunday night. Bashar Jaafari said on Syrian television:
Putin sent a clear message! The fact is that the Israeli ambassador was summoned for a conversation only a day after he submitted his credentials, and was told categorically that this game is over! They changed the rules of the game! Syria will not stand idly by in the face of an Israeli threat!
He also claimed that when the civil war began in Syria in 2011, opposition groups sabotaged Syria’s anti-aircraft defense systems, giving Israel freedom to operate. Between Thursday night and Friday morning, IAF attacked several targets in Syria, triggering the most serious clash between Israel and Syria since the civil war erupted six years ago. In response to the airstrikes, Syria’s air defense system fired several missiles at the jets. Israel’s Arrow anti-missile defense system was launched, shooting down one of the missiles north of Jerusalem. The incident forced Israel to admit for the first time that it had launched an aerial attack in Syria. Following that, Israel’s ambassador to Moscow, Gary Koren, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry for talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, an unusual development. Since Russian forces began operating in Syria in 2015, there have been a number of airstrikes that foreign media have attributed to Israel, but the Israeli ambassador had never previously been called in to clarify Israel’s actions.