Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes.
“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Lieberman said on Israeli public radio.
Israeli fighter jets hit several targets in Syria on Friday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the strikes targeted weapons bound for the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.
Syria’s military claimed it downed one of the Israeli planes and hit another as they were carrying out the predawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that it recaptured from jihadists this month.
The IDF denied that any of its planes were hit. The Syrian government has made similar claims in the past.
An Israeli army statement said “several anti-aircraft missiles” were fired following the raid but that none hit their targets.
One missile was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defense battery, military officials said, in the first reported use of the advanced system.
It was the most serious incident between the two countries since the Syrian civil war began six years ago.
In April 2016, Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had attacked dozens of convoys transporting weapons in Syria destined for Hezbollah, which fought a 2006 war with Israel and is now battling alongside the Damascus regime.
Israel does not usually confirm or deny individual raids, but it may have been led to do so this time by the circumstances of the incident.