An Israeli tank is seen on the Golan Heights..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar vowed that the Assad regime would respond to IDF strikes on Syrian military targets, according to a news report on Tuesday.
Haidar reportedly told the Nazareth- based Sonara news website that the “cease-fire [with Israel] is broken, and we’ve entered a state of confrontation with Israel.” He threatened a Syrian response “that will have a bigger influence than the Israeli operation, and it will come at the appropriate time and place.”
Late Sunday, the IDF struck nine Syrian military targets, killing four soldiers and wounding nine, in response to a cross-border anti-tank missile strike
from Syria earlier that day that killed 14-year-old Muhammad Karaka.
“There is no doubt” that Syrian soldiers fired the anti-tank missile into Israel, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday during a visit to the IDF’s Galilee Formation (91st Division), which secures part of the border with Lebanon.
“It’s completely clear that the Syrian army is responsible for this,” he said.
“Hence, the responsibility lies with the regime of Bashar Assad, and that’s why we responded as we did. As we’ve said from the start, any violation of our sovereignty in the Golan Heights will be answered with a harsh response against Bashar Assad’s forces. That’s what happened, and that’s what we will continue to do in the future.”
The defense minister also visited Mount Dov, near the Lebanese and Syrian borders.
He noted the quiet border with Lebanon, despite Hezbollah’s massive rocket arsenal, adding that the Northern Command and its units were ready for “any situation.” Ya’alon attributed the ongoing quiet on the Lebanese frontier to Israeli deterrence.
Meanwhile, President-elect Reuven Rivlin visited the Karaka family Tuesday.
“Your son is everyone’s son,” he told the boy’s father, Fahmi Karaka. “I came here to express my condolences in the name of all citizens of the State of Israel, Jews, Druse and Muslims.”
Rivlin expressed his hope that “we can all live together and respect one another.”
As for those responsible for killing the teenager, Rivlin said that “the State of Israel does not allow harm to its citizens....This was an attack meant to disrupt life in Israel.”
Karaka was the first casualty from a cross-border missile strike on the Golan Heights since the Syrian civil war began.
The 14-year-old was killed and two others wounded when the missile fired from inside Syria hit a civilian vehicle that belonged to his father, a contractor who was doing maintenance work for the Defense Ministry.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an Israel Radio interview that Jerusalem could not let the killing of Karaka go by as if nothing had happened.
“We received all the analysis and intelligence, and it was clear that it was the Syrian authorities, Assad’s force, who fired on the Israeli civilian, on the car, and they need to pay the price,” he said, adding that this would also be the case if there were similar attacks in the future.
Liberman said he hoped that Damascus had received Israel’s message and that the Syrians would think twice about whom they targeted in the future.
“This,” he said, “is how any sovereign state would behave.”