Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged a tough response to any threats against Israel after it struck Syrian military targets in retaliation for an attempted attack in the occupied Golan Heights.
“We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves,” he said on Tuesday during a tour of a military facility in central Israel.
“These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the (military) behind them and this should be taken seriously,” the veteran premier added.
Israel launched air raids on military targets in southern Syria late on Monday. The army said it was retaliating after an attempt to lay explosives in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Syrian state-run news agency Sana said Israeli helicopters attacked Syrian army positions near Quneitra in the south but caused only material damage. It also said air defences had gone into action near the Syrian capital.
Several Israeli media outlets reported that Monday’s actions were in response to an increased threat from the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has a significant presence in Syria.
In response to an attempted IED attack near the security fence between Syria & Israel last night, we just struck SAF targets in Syria including:
🎯 observation posts
🎯 intel collection systems
🎯 anti-aircraft artillery
🎯 command & control systems
We hold Syria responsible.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 3, 2020
Tensions have risen in recent weeks along the Israel-Syria frontier after a fighter belonging to the Iran-backed Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah was killed in an apparent Israeli air attack on the outskirts of Damascus two weeks ago.
Israel has since boosted the number of forces on its northern frontier, where it borders Lebanon and Syria.
Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah promised revenge, although Israeli commentators have said he seems eager to avoid a major escalation as Lebanon struggles with its internal problems.
Last week, Israel also said it thwarted an infiltration attempt from Lebanon by Hezbollah fighters, setting off one of the heaviest exchanges of fire along the volatile Israel-Lebanon frontier since a 2006 war between the bitter enemies.
Since 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of attacks in Syria, targeting government troops and allied Iranian and Hezbollah forces and vowing to end Iran’s military presence in Syria.