Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the air force’s early morning strikes on Syrian military positions had targeted units involved in Tuesday’s attack on an IDF patrol.
“Last night, the IDF attacked targets in Syrian territory,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “These were targets of Syrian elements that not only facilitated, but also cooperated with, the attacks on our forces. Our policy is very clear: We attack those who attack us. We are also, to the best of our ability, interdicting the transfer of weapons by sea, air and land, and this activity will continue.”
Netanyahu also said that Israel’s proactive policies have led to a reduced level of terrorism in recent years. “Last year, it was the lowest in a decade, both in terms of victims and in the launching of missiles and rockets. From time to time we must take vigorous action, as we are now doing, so that this quiet may continue.”
IAF aircraft retaliated early Wednesday morning for the attack on an Israeli patrol near the Israeli-Syrian border, bombing several Syrian positions in the Golan Heights, the army spokesperson said.
According to the army, Israel targeted a Syrian army training facility, military headquarters and artillery batteries that “aided and abetted” the roadside bombing attack, which injured four soldiers, one of them seriously.
In a sharply worded statement, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed that Israeli warplanes had bombed “several targets associated with the Syrian army and defense establishment that aided and abetted yesterday’s terror attack,” and issued a pointed warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom he blamed for the attack.
“We won’t tolerate any breach of our sovereignty or attacks against our soldiers and civilians,” he said. “We will react with might and resolve against anyone who acts against us, no matter where and when, as we demonstrated last night. Anyone who tries to attack us will be signing their own death sentence.”
The defense minister went on to declare that if the Syrian president “will continue to cooperate with terror elements that aspire to harm the State of Israel, we will continue to exact from him a heavy price in a manner that will make him regret his actions.”
The IDF spokesperson tweeted earlier that Israel held the Syrian military responsible for Tuesday’s attack, which occurred near Majdal Shams. One of the soldiers injured in the incident suffered from serious head and chest wounds and remained in intensive care overnight at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center after having undergone surgery.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) March 19, 2014
The soldiers’ patrol jeep had apparently run over a bomb, in what Al Arabiya described as a kidnapping attempt. Light arms fire had also been directed at the patrol, according to Maariv.
The military initially returned artillery fire into Syria, hitting sites in the nearby city of Quneitra, including a Syrian army base. “The IDF retaliated toward Syrian Military positions,” the army said in a statement.