Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday morning that the IDF had destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure sites in Syria overnight in response to a rocket barrage on Israel’s north, and warned Tehran that attacks on Israeli territory will be met with “the strongest possible force.”
In his first public comments following the strikes on dozens of targets that the IDF said were affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ al-Quds Force, Liberman said that Israel has no interest in escalating tensions but will not accept any provocation against it.
“If we get rain, you will get a flood,” he warned Iran, speaking at an annual Herzliya Conference. “We will not let Iran use Syria as a base to attack us from.”
“The Iranians tried to attack the sovereign territory of Israel,” Liberman said. “Not one Iranian rocket landed in the State of Israel. Nobody was hurt. Nothing was damaged. And we’re to be thankful for that. We damaged nearly all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria.”
But he added, “It’s not a stunning victory. Everything’s limited at the moment to a confrontation between us and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria. Everyone wants to limit this confrontation and keep it in this form.”
Liberman stressed that Israel had no interested in an escalation but that Iranian provocation met with force.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned Iran that Israel is “not playing and not bluffing.
“Tonight, we conveyed an important message to Iran and to the Assad regime: a message of determination and strength,” Erdan tweeted.
“Israel will not cease to act against Iranian forces in Syria and will not forgive any attempt to attack the [Israeli] citizens of the north.
“We will not allow the religious extremist regime in Tehran to build military power in Syria that presents a threat to the citizens of Israel. We hold the Syrian regime responsible for whatever happens on its soil,” he said.
“We are not playing and we are not bluffing. We are determined to do whatever is necessary to defend Israel.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said on Twitter, “Israel last night sent a clear message to its enemies and Iran: The rules of the game have changed. We will not tolerate any threat against the security of our citizens and we will not accept the buildup of hostile Iranian forces a short distance from border communities.”
Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, said, “Israel will not tolerate Iranian attacks on our sovereign territory. We expect our friends and allies to stand shoulder to shoulder with us. The world must be united in the fight against terrorism and that means being united against
#Iran and its terror proxies.”
Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) tweeted, “We will put the Iranian genie back into the bottle. If Iran looks for adventures in Syria, it will come up against determination and strength.”
Opposition Zionist Union lawmaker Amir Peretz called on the government to “prepare for a broader confrontation” and to allocate NIS 2 billion ($560 million) to deal with “gaps in the home front.”
He told Channel 10 news on Thursday that the message Israel delivered was “unambiguous. The Iranians cannot be allowed to establish themselves on the [Israeli] border. We have to continue to deploy the Iron Dome [air defense system] and resolutely respond to any firing against Israel.”
The Israeli army said Thursday morning that it had set back Iranian military capabilities in Syria by “many months” with its strikes on Iranian positions.
The Israel Defense Forces stressed that it was not seeking an escalation of hostilities with Tehran, after some 20 rockets were fired at Israeli military bases by Iranian forces from southern Syria just after midnight, prompting extensive Israeli retaliatory raids.
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said four projectiles were intercepted by Iron Dome and the rest fell in Syria.
There were no reports of Israeli casualties.
The overnight exchange was the largest-ever direct clash between the Iranian and Israeli militaries, and appeared to be the largest exchange involving Israel in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
In all, Israel carried out dozens of raids against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces’ intelligence centers, weapons depots, storage facilities, observation posts, and logistics centers in Syria, as well as the rocket launcher, the IDF said.