Israeli security personnel guard the remains of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet near Harduf, Israel,
Add the following ingredients and heat on high: an Iranian drone in Israel, a downed Israeli jet, an Israeli bombing raid in Syria, unfiltered hatred and decades of distrust. After a few minutes, what have you got? Trouble rising.
The world woke up to rare images of a downed Israeli jet on Saturday, and all the orchestrated cheers you’d have imagined.
Of course the Israeli air force hit back, causing more damage to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air defences than he’d have cared contemplate, let alone correct. But still. It felt like a black eye.
Analysts agree: Israel has been hurt by this. Yes, it reacted with strength, destroying or damaging up to half of Syrian’s air defence systems by some estimates, but the drone shows that Iran is operating with near-impunity near Israel’s border, and the burning F-16 shows Israel is not invincible.
There’s a bigger picture here. Iran has a hold in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, and it is now building up its Monopoly board pieces in Syria, establishing a network of militias along Israel’s northern border.
If this really were Monopoly, it would be aiming to get ‘a street’ – that fabled land corridor stretching from Tehran to Beirut. If it does, Israel will feel encircled and vulnerable.
It showed last weekend that it can hit back hard. But what’s the end game? Iran’s is painfully obvious and dribbling nearer.