On February 10, 2018, an Apache helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel, the IDF announced on its blog. The aircraft was identified by Israel's Aerial Defense Systems early on and was under surveillance until the interception. "The Iranian drone fell in our territory and is in our possession," said IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis.
In an immediate response, the IDF attacked the Iranian aircraft's launch components in Syrian territory. Later, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft struck 12 targets in Syria, including three SA5 and SA17 air defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran's military establishment in Syria.
According to Syrian media reports, Israel struck the Abu Al-Thaaleb airbase near the town of Kiswah, which is home to Syria’s 1st armored division and part of the Islamic Republic’s buildup in Syria, The Jerusalem Post added.
"This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory," Manelis said. "Iran is dragging the region into a situation in which it doesn't know how it will end. We are prepared for a variety of incidents...whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price."
During the attack, multiple anti-aircraft missiles were fired at IAF aircraft. The two pilots of an F-16 jet ejected from the aircraft as per procedure, one of whom was seriously injured and taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
"The Syrians and the Iranians, from our point of view, are playing with fire. The Syrians are playing with fire when they allow the Iranians to attack Israel from their soil. We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. However, we are not looking to escalate the situation," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Media Desk.
Israel's top military brass, including IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and IAF Commandant Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, are holding high-level consultations at the Kyria compound in Tel Aviv with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.