Three Israeli air strikes late Tuesday night on Syrian army bases in Quneitra, Damascus and surrounds were a warning to Beirut, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said early Wednesday.
The attacks came in response to a double rocket attack on the Israeli Golan Heights fired by Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists from Syrian territory on Tuesday afternoon. One of the rockets, which were later identified as M307s, landed in the Herman region. The other exploded in El Ram.
The IDF responded immediately with artillery fire directed at the source of the rocket launches and reported that it had destroyed both. IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner informed media in a text message that the Syrian missile fire had indeed been “intentional” and “not spillover from the Syrian civil war” as has been claimed in past incidents.
“The air force strike tonight on territory controlled by [President Bashar] al-Assad in Syria against targets of his regime is a clear message that we will not allow any fire on the territory of Israel and breach of its sovereignty, and that we will respond with force and firmness,” Ya’alon said.
“As the Assad regime is responsible for the fire from its territory on Israel, we will know how to collect a heavy price from any regime or organization from whose territory our sovereignty is breached and fire of this or another type is conducted on Israel.
“We don’t intend to just move on and be tolerant towards terrorist activities and attempts to harm our citizens and soldiers,” Ya’alon continued. “We act with restraint and firmness, with responsibility and consideration to preserve the security of citizens of Israel against countries and terrorist sources whose goal is to disrupt our lives.”
Shortly after midnight, Israeli residents of the Golan Heights awakened to the sound of the Code Red incoming rocket alert siren again, just 12 hours after the first attack earlier in the day. No rocket landings were identified, however, and officials later concluded that perhaps the siren had activated in response to the nearby IAF air strikes instead.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing that Washington had seen the news of Tuesday’s attack on Israel and did not want “an escalation of the situation.” “We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and have been clear about our concerns over the regional instability caused by the crisis in Syria,” she told reporters.
“We call upon all parties to avoid any action that would jeopardize the long-held ceasefire between Israel and Syria and abide by the 1974 disengagement of forces agreement,” she added.
The escalation in the region follows the death of six Hezbollah terrorists – including three top commanders – and six Iranian Revolutionary Guards – including Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi – in an air strike on a convoy traveling through Quneitra province in Syria a week ago Sunday. The attack has been attributed to Israel although there has been no confirmation by the IDF.
Following the attack, the Islamic Republic of Iran sent a message to the United States “through diplomatic channels,” warning that Israel should suffer the consequences of its “wrongful act of aggression.”
But despite avowals of taking revenge against the Jewish State, Iran’s proxy in the region, Hezbollah, has made it clear through various means that the terror group does not seek another full-scale war.
Since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has lived underground in permanent hiding, speaking to his followers solely through video hookups, out of fear he will be assassinated by Israel.
Hana Levi Julian