IDF Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad revealed in a public talk reported by Israeli media that PM Netanyahu and Russia’s Putin made a secret deal permitting the Russian air force to use Israeli airspace during its attacks on Syrian rebel targets:
Russian war planes sometimes cross into Israeli airspace. As a result of excellent security coördination, which began with a Putin-Netanyahu meeting which established the sector boundaries, the IDF and Russian military agreed to security arrangements which provided, in the event of an incident, both would know what to do and how to prevent an escalation.
In return, Putin has assured Israel that it will not interfere in IAF attacks on Hezbollah targets inside Syria. Specifically, weapons convoys ferrying Iranian hardware to Lebanon via Syria.
I posted here about this a few months ago:
Israel and Russia appear to have agreed to maintain separate spheres of influence in which they would each hold sway militarily. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Israel’s sphere of influence in southern Lebanon which was policed by its Christian Arab proxy, South Lebanon Army.
This development represents a further cannibalization of the former Syrian nation-state. Every player (Russia, Hezbollah, Iran, Israel, Turkey, etc.) appears to have their own proxies and territorial enclaves, which has turned Syria into a shell of its former self.
We have seen in this dysfunctional tinderbox how easy it is for decisions taken in a fit of piqué, like shooting down a plane, can turn into a casus belli.
As it has been for decades, the Middle East is a roiling cauldron of conflicting interests, which could easily ignite wider war. This is yet another reason that the military escalation engineered by the Russians on one side, and western allies like France, Turkey, the U.S., and Turkey (and possibly Britain) on the other, is a recipe for disaster.
Israel’s military censor was none too happy with a former general exposing Israel’s ongoing engagement in Syria’s dismemberment. So it bowdlerized the original report. Now, instead of saying Israel permits Russian warplanes use Israeli airspace, Gilad said when we “face Russian planes we know what to do.” Which means precisely nothing.
This is a further example of Israeli citizens deprived of critical information necessary to judge the policies of their own government. Citizens in turn avert their eyes saying these are decisions best left to others who know better. It’s the willing infantilization of the average Israeli.
This article appeared at Tikun Olam.