Intel minister: Israel ready to respond to Syrian counter-strikes

Israel Katz indirectly responded to reports that the IAF attacked a weapons depot in Syria.

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November 2, 2017 09:55
3 minute read.
Israel Katz

Israel Katz. (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)

Hours after foreign reports said Israel attacked a weapons depot in Syria, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Israel will not tolerate smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah.

Katz told Army Radio on Thursday that he cannot relate directly to the reports of the attack, but Israel has operated and will continue to operate to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese terrorist group.

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“Israel’s position is clear: Smuggling arms to Hezbollah is a redline in our eyes,” Katz said.

“Israel is ready to respond to any counterstrikes that follow from our actions.”

Reuters reported that a commander in a military alliance fighting in support of Damascus said an Israeli air strike on Wednesday night targeted a factory south of Homs and the Syrian Army responded by firing a surface-to-air missile at the aircraft. The commander said the planes hit a copper factory in Hisya, more than 100 km. north of Damascus. The commander did not give details of any casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based organization that reports on the war, said the air strike had targeted a military installation.

The IDF declined to comment but Channel 10 said the aircraft were not hit and returned safely to base.


Hours after foreign reports said Israel attacked a weapons depot in Syria, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Israel will not tolerate smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah.

Katz told Army Radio on Thursday that he cannot relate directly to the reports of the attack, but Israel has operated and will continue to operate to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese terrorist group.

“Israel’s position is clear: Smuggling arms to Hezbollah is a redline in our eyes,” Katz said.

“Israel is ready to respond to any counterstrikes that follow from our actions.”

Reuters reported that a commander in a military alliance fighting in support of Damascus said an Israeli air strike on Wednesday night targeted a factory south of Homs and the Syrian Army responded by firing a surface-to-air missile at the aircraft. The commander said the planes hit a copper factory in Hisya, more than 100 km. north of Damascus. The commander did not give details of any casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based organization that reports on the war, said the air strike had targeted a military installation.

The IDF declined to comment but Channel 10 said the aircraft were not hit and returned safely to base.

“I think the other side also understands this clearly, and actions that took place in the past for which we did take responsibility were actions that were according to these lines, these redlines,” Katz added.

The reported strike was the third inside Syria attributed to Israel in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, the IAF attacked and destroyed a Syrian SA -5 anti-aircraft battery 50 km. east of Damascus after it fired a surface-to-air missile at Israeli jets. The aircraft were doing reconnaissance over Lebanese airspace.

Five days later, the IDF hit three Syrian regime artillery positions after five projectiles were fired toward Israel earlier in the morning.

Three of them landed in open territory in Israel’s northern Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries.

After the mid-October attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented: “Our policy is clear: Anyone who tries to harm us will be hit. Today they tried to hit our planes, which is unacceptable to us.”

The premier said the IAF acted with “precision and speed,” and “destroyed what needed to be destroyed. We will continue to act as is needed to protect Israel’s security.”

The air force said it has struck Syrian Army and Hezbollah arms convoys nearly 100 times in recent years.

The government has also expressed alarm at Iranian influence in Syria, where Iran-backed groups have played a critical role fighting for President Bashar Assad during the six-and-ahalf- year-old civil war.

Iran’s military chief, warned during a visit to Damascus last month against Israel breaching Syrian airspace and territory.

Anna Ahronheim  and Reuters contributed to this report.


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