EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The downing of the Russian plane requires Israel to reevaluate the continued relevance of its years-long air campaign in Syria. While the struggle to prevent the entrenchment of Iranian forces in Syria and the arming of Hezbollah with “tie-breaking” strategic weapons must continue, the nature and format of the campaign need to be adjusted to the new strategic reality that is being created by Moscow.
The crisis between Jerusalem and Moscow over culpability for the recent downing of the Russian plane has far less to do with the incident’s actual facts than with its wider framework: how the process that culminated in the disaster unfolded, and whose responsibility it was.
As far as Moscow is concerned, it all began with the Israeli decision to attack the Latakia military compound, and the question of who actually pulled the trigger and downed the plane is marginal. For Israel, on the other hand, the root of the problem is Tehran’s growing military entrenchment in Syria and its sustained delivery of advanced weaponry to its Hezbollah proxy. Here lie the seeds of the strategic crisis that is currently at the door of the Israeli leadership.