A few years ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin established a “red phone” hotline between the senior command of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Russian forces operating in Syria.
With Israel carrying out routine strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, Israel and Russia wanted to avoid an accidental confrontation with one another.
But that hotline has reportedly now been cut.
Last night the Israel Air Force carried out strikes on multiple targets in and around the Syrian capital of Damascus, including a ballistic missile base. But unlike some past airstrikes, this one was carried out from within Israeli airspace.
Israeli aircraft are reportedly now not crossing into Syrian airspace for fear the Russians might target them.
The Arabic newspaper Al-Jarida cited an unnamed Western diplomat as saying that Israeli commanders have for weeks been unable to contact the Russians via the hotline to coordinate these strikes, as conveyed by the Israeli website Natziv.net. Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov was said to have insisted that the line was disconnected because of a technical problem, and that it should not be seen as a hostile move by Moscow.
But that it has been disconnected for so long is cause for concern in Jerusalem.
Moscow has threatened in recent years to stop turning a blind eye to Israeli airstrikes in Syria, in apparent retaliation for Israel siding more with Ukraine than with Russia.
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