By Ariel Kanaha (Israel Hayom)
Israel’s Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi was summoned on Sunday to appear at the Russian Foreign Ministry. News of the summons arrived after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and a number of other Israeli officials issued sharp condemnations of Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
Israeli officials still believe the situation is “under control” and don’t expect diplomatic relations between the countries to deteriorate.
During his official visit to Greece earlier in the month, Lapid charged that Russia had committed “war crimes against a defenseless civilian population.”
“A large and powerful country has invaded a smaller neighbor without any justification,” said Lapid, adding, “Once again, the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians.”
In his remarks, the foreign minister also condemned the killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha – where the withdrawal of Russian troops revealed mass graves and a number of bodies lying in the streets, dressed in civilian clothing.
“The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific,” said Lapid.
Moscow said on Friday that it had “taken note” of Lapid’s comments, which officials referred to as an “anti-Russian attack” in a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“There is an attempt to exploit the situation in Ukraine to distract the attention of the international community from one of the longest unsolved conflicts – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the Russian message read.
The ministry also condemned Israel’s decision to vote in favor of Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
On Sunday, Ynet reported that Russian military has released what it claims are details of a recent Israeli air strike on targets in the Damascus region. The report attributed the release to a desire in Moscow to retaliate for Lapid’s condemnations of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Citing Russian media reports, Ynet said senior Russian military officer Oleg Zhuravlev, the deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, had revealed that two Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired two guided missiles from the Golan Heights at targets in the Damascus area on Thursday night.
According to the Russian claims, one of the missiles was destroyed by a Russian-made Buk M2E air defense system in the possession of Assad regime forces, while the other caused material damage.
Main Photo: Foreign Minister Yair Lapid holds a press conference in Tel Aviv, on April 14, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)