On July 26, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed that the Russian military opened fire at Israeli fighter jets in May from an S-300 long-range air-defense system, at the end of an aerial attack that targeted a military research complex near the town of Masyaf in northwestern Syria.
“It was a one-off incident,” Gantz told a conference hosted by Channel 13, when asked to confirm the report. The Russian launch happened when the aircraft “were no longer around”, he said.
“Our jets weren’t even in the area,” Gantz added, confirming the original report which claimed the S-300 radar did not lock onto the Israeli fighters jets which were leaving the area, and thus did not pose a serious threat to the pilots.
Gants said that Israel’s coordination with Russia over Syria is “a situation that is stable right now”. However, he noted that Israel is always reviewing the incident.
The Israeli attack claimed the lives of five people, including three service members of Syria’s air defense forces, and wounded at least seven others.
Syria received three S-300PMU2 air-defense systems from Russia after the downing of a Russian Il-20 intelligence aircraft by Syrian air defense forces which were responding to an Israeli attack over Syrian airspace in September 2018. Russia blamed Israel for the incident.
In its report, Channel 13 argued that Syria’s S-300 systems are operated by the Russian military and cannot be fired without its approval.
The disclosure by Gantz came amid tensions between Israel and Russia. Tel Aviv insists on condemning the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, while Moscow is taking steps to stop the work of the Jewish Agency on its territory.