Yesterday, Israel Defense Forces major Avichai Adraee debated Saleh Qirata, a Spain-based former Syrian military officer and Assad supporter, on Al Jazeera Arabic’s “The Other Side.” The two were invited to discuss this week’s events in Syria, including a sustained aerial bombardment launched by the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on East Ghouta, an fully regime-blockaded opposition-controlled neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus where between 350,000 and 400,000 people are currently under siege. As many as 300 people were killed in a three-day period earlier this week, and the attacks worsened starvation conditions that the regime had already imposed.
Adraee, who Tablet profiled earlier this month, is known for engaging Hezbollah fighters in Arabic on social media—one of his exchanges even provoked dueling columns in the Hezbollah-aligned Lebanese newspaper al Akhbar. He and Qirata debated in Arabic, with Adraee appearing on the Qatari state television network in his IDF uniform.
Unsurprisingly, the main subject of discussion was the recent shooting down of an Israeli fighter jet by Syrian air defenses. In response, Israel claimed to have destroyed half of Assad’s air defenses. “What benefit is there to one downed Israeli jet when moments later, half of the Syrian anti-aircraft missile system was destroyed?” the show’s host, Faisal al-Qasem, asked his Syrian guest. “Is the Syrian pride in downing an Israeli plane after 30 years similar to the joy of a paraplegic who succeeds in moving his fingers for a few seconds?”
Qirata, on his end, was unperturbed by the question, answering that “The downing of an Israeli plane is not merely a passing event and it is a game changer,” he claimed.
But Adraee had the last word. “Qirata lives in Spain and therefore cannot hear the sound of Israeli aerial superiority before and after this incident,” he said. “If he were to ask his friends and relatives in Damascus whether they hear (sense) the Israeli superiority they would respond in the affirmative.”
If you speak Arabic or read Hebrew, you can watch the entire exchange here.