Netanyahu warns Israel will strike back at aggressors

Knesset members say rocket attack on Israel’s north was an attempt to divert attention from chemical weapons use in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in Jerusalem on August 22, 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in Jerusalem on August 22, 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

In the wake of Thursday’s rocket attack on the north, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to safeguard Israelis’ security and said that while Israel’s policy is to “protect and preempt,” anyone who attempts to attack the Jewish state should expect a retaliation.

“A short time ago rockets were fired from Lebanese territory on the western Galilee,” Netanyahu said in a videotaped statement. “We are operating on all fronts, in the north and south, to protect the citizens of Israel from these attacks. We are employing diverse means, both defensive and preemptive, and we are acting responsibly.

“Our policy is clear,” he continued, “to protect and to preempt. Anyone who harms us, or tries to harm us, should know that we will harm them.”

Four rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel on Thursday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but damage was caused to several homes in the Nahariya and Acre areas. An Israeli Iron Dome battery intercepted one of the rockets. Israeli TV aired footage of minor damage caused by a fragment from the rocket that fell on the outskirts of a town outside Nahariya.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) said the attack was the work of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which, in conjunction with its ally Syria, sought to create a distraction in the wake of this week’s alleged chemical weapon attack near Damascus.

The Syrians “acted swiftly and decisively” by having “their allies, Hezbollah, divert international pressure from the gas attack on children in Damascus,” Shai, a former IDF spokesman, said in a statement. “This is an old and ugly trick, but we won’t fall for it. Israel must act cautiously and responsibly.”

MK Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) also said that the attack was designed to divert attention from the “terrible situation” in Syria. Herzog said that he had spoken with several mayors of northern cities, who have “all acted calmly and with restraint.” He also praised the public which, “as usual, performed excellently.”

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), speaking to Channel 2, said that the Lebanese government was ultimately responsible for attacks from inside its territory, warning that “if the Lebanese government and army cannot prevent these attacks, we will have to do so.

“Today it’s a marginal group, but tomorrow it will be a more significant one,” Katz said, adding that “war won’t break out tomorrow but we will not allow this situation to repeat itself… We will not allow these attacks to force residents of the North into bomb shelters and disrupt normal life.”

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), a former IDF commando who attained the rank of colonel, said the army should respond “immediately” to the rocket fire, Israel National News reported. “This is the reality that the other side understands,” he added.

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