Monday, February 12, 2018
Israel’s prime minister said Sunday his country delivered “severe blows” to Iranian and Syrian forces and vowed to take further action against its adversaries after the most serious Israeli engagement in Syria since the war there erupted almost seven years ago.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough words to his Cabinet came a day after Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes in Syria. Israel ordered the airstrikes after it intercepted an Iranian drone that had infiltrated its airspace, and an Israeli F-16 was downed upon its return from Syria.
“Yesterday we dealt severe blows to the Iranian and Syrian forces,” Netanyahu said. “We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of action have not changed one bit. We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us. This has been our policy, and it will remain our policy.”
Israel has tried to stay on the sidelines since civil war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, though it has periodically carried out airstrikes against suspected weapons shipments believed to be headed for Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iranian and Syrian-allied militant group. But as the Syrian war winds down, Israeli officials have voiced increasing alarm that Iran and its Shiite allies are establishing a permanent presence in Syria that could turn its aim toward Israel.
Israeli leaders said the airstrikes sent a clear message to Iran.
“We do not just talk – we act,” said Cabinet Minister Yoav Galant, a former Israeli deputy chief of staff and member of Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet.
“I think that also the Syrians now understand well that the fact that they are hosting the Iranians on Syrian soil harms them,” he told The Associated Press.