“Israel’s security is paramount and above everything else. There will be no compromise.”
Israel “will not hesitate” to destroy Syria’s air defense systems if that country ever again targets IAF jet fighters, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened on Sunday.
The air force’s Arrow anti-aircraft missile defense system intercepted a Syrian SA-5 missile fired at Israeli jets on Friday night. The jets had already returned to Israeli airspace when they were attacked, after striking targets in Syria.
“You have to understand the context; if we strike there is a real reason for it,” the defense minister said during a visit to the Meitav IDF Induction Center at Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan.
“We have no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria, either in favor of or against Assad. We do not want to clash with the Russians. Our main issue is with the transfer of advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon, and so whenever we detect an attempt to smuggle weapons, we will act to prevent it. We will not compromise on this issue,” he said.
Liberman warned there will be “no compromise” on the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, and that if the Syrian regime again uses air-defense systems against IAF jets, Israel will “destroy them. We will not hesitate. Israel’s security is paramount and above everything else. There will be no compromise.”
The defense minister also addressed the situation in the South, saying that “we will not invest Israeli taxpayer money in electricity and water for the residents of Gaza while they are investing their money in [attack] tunnels.
“We will not tolerate any provocation. The IDF will respond strongly to every rocket fired from the Gaza Strip,” Liberman said.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, speaking in Safed at a ceremony marking the change in leadership at the Northern Command, said that the IDF will not be deceived by the quiet along the Lebanese border, as Hezbollah continues to violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701 by arming itself.
“There has been more than a decade of quiet along the borders of the country. The quiet allows residents on both sides of the border to have a normal life with economic prosperity. But the IDF will not let the quiet deceive it, and closely watches the changes on the Lebanese border as well as the Syrian front,” he said.
Hezbollah continues to prepare for war, in villages, towns and cities south of Lebanon’s Litani River, Eisenkot said. The group “continues to arm itself with more lethal and more accurate weapons to harm the Israeli home front,” he said.
“In statements made by Hezbollah recently in Beirut, it’s been made clear that in the next war there will be a clear address: the Lebanese government as well as terrorist organizations operating with its consent,” Eisenkot said, stressing that while Israel continues to provide humanitarian aid and medical assistance to its northern neighbors when needed, the IDF will work to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.
Addressing outgoing head of the Northern Command, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Eisenkot said that due to his work, the troops have strengthened their capabilities for when a war might break out.
“Aviv, you have led the Northern Command in a diverse and threat-filled arena and initiated important steps to improve the IDF’s operational capabilities. Every day, the command and its forces strengthened their capabilities in their readiness for war.”
Hezbollah, meanwhile, posted pictures of Syrian air defenses, including the kind fired at Israeli jets on Friday morning.
Syrian media also reported that an Israeli drone had struck a car in the Quneitra countryside, killing the driver named as Yasser al-Sayed. Unconfirmed reports from Syria said that Sayed was a commander in Syria’s air defense unit. Hours earlier, Syrian media said that regime forces had “repelled” an Israeli reconnaissance drone near the town of Khan Arnaba, near to where the strike allegedly occurred.