TEL AVIV — The decision by the Iran-led “Shiite Axis” in the region to send an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into Israeli territory was a dangerous miscalculation by Tehran and its puppets in Syria and Lebanon.
Following strategic victories over the Islamic State and Turkey-backed rebels inside Syria, an overly confident Iran apparently decided to test regional boundaries and its own capabilities by sending the UAV over the border into the Jewish state.
Aviation analysts described the Iranian drone as a new stealthy model similar in design to the American RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone that Iran claimed to have shot down and seized in December 2011. It’s likely the Iranians were testing the model’s ability to penetrate Israeli airspace undetected, making Israel’s discovery of the UAV a remarkable display of regional military superiority.
Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have outrageously been attempting to frame Israel’s massive airstrikes as unprovoked aggression, even fueling conspiracies that no drone was intercepted. In reality, the timeline is self-evident. Following Iran’s ill-conceived provocative UAV move, Israeli jets pounded an Iran-controlled airbase outside the Syrian city of Palmyra that Israel says was utilized to launch the drone. Syrian forces then launched anti-aircraft missiles, reportedly forcing an Israeli F-16 pilot to abandon his jet and sending Israel’s northern communities into bomb shelters. Israel in turn dispatched bombers into Syria to target a series of important Syrian and Iranian military installations, prompting more anti-aircraft fire from Iran-backed Syrian forces.
The Shiite Axis operational to Israel’s north – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – have been celebrating the incident that resulted in the F-16 abandonment as a victory. “This is the beginning of a new strategic era which puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territory,” Hezbollah claimed in a statement published by Lebanon’s ANI news agency. The Israel Air Force will indeed need to investigate what went wrong and must calibrate accordingly. However, Hezbollah’s celebrations are more posturing than realistic and seem designed to mask the extent of Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes.
Israel will undoubtedly continue to act in Syria and Lebanon when necessary to ensure the Jewish state’s security. Meanwhile, Israel’s strikes in Syria have been described in news media reports as not only its most serious engagement in that country since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, but the most devastating blow dealt to the Syrians – and by extension to their Iranian overlords – since perhaps the first Lebanon war in 1982.
Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said it would take Iran and Syria some time to “digest” the extent of the Israeli raids. “They, and we, know what we hit and it will take them some time to digest, understand and ask how Israel knew how to hit those sites,” he said. “These were concealed sites and we have intelligence agencies and the ability to know everything that is going on there and yesterday we proved that.”
Iran’s drone fleet is an important part of its war arsenal against Israel. Hezbollah has previously threatened to send explosives-laden drones to target Israel’s nuclear plant and civilian infrastructure. Only last week, Iran announced the opening of a drone manufacturing facility meant to mass produce UAVs that can carry smart munitions to attack various targets.
It also must be recalled that Iran’s dispatching of the drone yesterday followed weeks of escalating rhetoric in which Hezbollah repeatedly threatened to attack Israeli offshore gas platforms, IDF troops operating along the northern border and dispatch fighters to storm the Israeli border.
In reacting as it did, Israel sent Iran, Syria and Hezbollah a clear message that they will suffer enormously following any future provocation. The Shiite Axis would do well to check its inflated hubris and think twice before messing with Israel again.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.