Israel threatens Assad after Golan Heights rocket fire
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Israel threatens Assad after Golan Heights rocket fire

Defense minister says Syria responsible for launches from its territory, further attacks will prompt ‘decisive’ response

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (R) with Northern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi during a visit at the Northern Command on January 23, 2015. (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (R) with Northern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi during a visit at the Northern Command on January 23, 2015. (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a stern warning to the Assad regime and its ally Hezbollah on Wednesday, a day after a rocket attack from Syria against the Israeli-held Golan Heights, and several Israeli retaliatory strikes.

In a statement, Ya’alon blamed the embattled Syrian government for the latest round of rocket fire and cautioned that further belligerence would be met with a harsh and forceful Israeli response.

The rocket attacks came amid persistent threats of retaliation from Iran and Hezbollah over an alleged Israeli airstrike on the Syrian Golan Heights earlier this month that left an Iranian general dead, along with a senior Hezbollah officer and 10 others.

“Last night’s [IDF strike] on Syrian territory against targets belonging to the Assad regime sends a clear message: that we will not tolerate any rocket fire into Israel or any infringement of our sovereignty, and that we will respond [to such attacks] forcefully and decisively,” Ya’alon said.

“The Assad regime is responsible for the fire into Israel, and we will exact a heavy price from any government or organization that violates our borders,” he said. “We have no intention of ignoring or abiding terrorist attacks on our soldiers and citizens.”

At least two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Golan Heights Tuesday in an attack that Israeli defense officials attributed to Hezbollah. Additional air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights around midnight, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling in what was apparently a false alarm.

“We are working calmly and decisively, responsibly and level-headedly, to maintain the security of Israeli citizens facing countries and terrorist elements that aim to disrupt our lives,” Ya’alon said.

Hezbollah and Iran vowed a painful response against the Jewish state following the January 18 deaths of Iranian general Mohammed Allahdadi along with senior Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh and 10 others in an airstrike attributed to Israel.

Analysts say that Hezbollah’s revenge may come in the form of an attack on Jewish or Israeli targets abroad, as the Iranian-controlled, Lebanese Shiite group is currently bogged down in fighting against Sunni rebel groups in Syria.

In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war that left 43 Israeli civilians and 119 IDF soldiers dead, and over 1,700 dead on the Lebanese side, including between 600 to 800 Hezbollah combatants, according to IDF figures.

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