After alleged Israeli airstrike, Liberman warns Syria: ‘Don’t test us’
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After alleged Israeli airstrike, Liberman warns Syria: ‘Don’t test us’

As Syrian official threatens that Israel will 'pay heavy price,' defense minister says things will end very badly for Damascus

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman lays a wreath at a monument commemorating the contributions of Bedouin soldiers to Israel's security in the Galilee on September 11, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman lays a wreath at a monument commemorating the contributions of Bedouin soldiers to Israel's security in the Galilee on September 11, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

In a thinly veiled threat directed at Syria, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that any future provocation against Israel from its northern neighbors would end “very badly” for them.

“I strongly suggest to our neighbors from the north not to try and provoke or threaten us because we take these threats seriously,” Liberman said at a ceremony honoring fallen Bedouin soldiers.

Liberman was referring specifically to comments made by Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad, who told a Lebanese television outlet Sunday that Israel would “pay a heavy price” for carrying out airstrikes in Syria.

The defense minister told the attendees at the ceremony in the Galilee that Israel “hopes that one day the Middle East will become an area of peace, cooperation and coexistence. But unfortunately, just today, we heard threats from our northern border, and I’m referring to the remarks made by the Syrian deputy foreign minister.”

Liberman warned the Syrians “not to test us.”

“I advise against entering into a confrontation with Israel. It will end badly for them, very badly,” he said.

The defense minister praised the the contributions of Bedouin soldiers, who he said “help daily in preventing terror attacks in Israel.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, center-right, meets with Bedouin leaders during a ceremony commemorating the contributions of Bedouin soldiers to Israel’s security in the Galilee on September 11, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

However, he also recognized the challenges faced by Bedouin soldiers, who face scorn in some of their communities and difficulties within the IDF.

“We’re aware of this and we are working to create an understanding [about] the unity of our destiny in order to pave paths for life of cooperation and mutual respect,” Liberman said.

“Of course, this means an openness, which is still needed in Israeli society, to accept the minority and those who are different, with the understanding that we’re all one human tapestry. All of us,” he added.

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