Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon justified on Monday Israeli strikes on Syrian military targets in retaliation for a lethal cross-border strike the day before, asserting that Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for any attacks emanating from his territory.
“The Assad regime now sees that it is responsible for the area under its control,” Ya’alon said. “We will respond aggressively and harshly against any provocation and violation of our sovereignty.”
The IDF retaliated overnight for an attack on a car in the Golan Heights Sunday morning that killed a 15-year-old Israeli boy, Mohammed Karkara, and wounded three others. The Israel Air Force targeted nine Syrian army positions, reportedly killing several Syrian soldiers.
A senior military official noted Monday, however, that Israel had no interest in military escalation along its northern borders, as the IDF was focused on an operation in the West Bank aimed at finding three kidnapped Israeli youths and weakening Hamas, which Israel holds responsible for the abduction.
Military officials said the Israeli car was hit by anti-tank fire from an area under the control of Assad regime forces, with one rebel commander telling The Times of Israel it was possible the regime had targeted the car with a heat-seeking missile. Israeli tanks fired at Syrian army positions shortly after the attack.
The Syrian government has not formally reacted to the Israeli air raids or artillery fire.
Karkara, the youth who was killed in the attack, was from the town of Arraba in the Lower Galilee. His father, a civilian contractor, and two others were also injured in the attack.
Ya’alon expressed sorrow over the teen’s death.