Israel’s policy on Syria remains unchanged, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday, following a spate of foreign reports that attributed a July 5 blast at a munitions site in the Syrian port of Latakia to an Israeli attack.
“In Syria, the bloody civil war continues, and we’re not getting involved in the war itself.
We set red lines according to our interests. We’re used to all sorts of things happening there and we get blamed in the end,” Ya’alon said.
He made the comments at the end of a visit to the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems plant in Kiryat Bialik, north of Haifa.
“In the past two days there have been battles between the Syrian army and opposition [rebel] forces on the Syrian [part of the] Golan Heights,” Ya’alon said.
Some of the exchanges of fire have been right on the Israeli border, leading to several mortar shells hitting near the frontier, Ya’alon noted.
“We are continuing with the same policy we set. As soon as there is fire from Syrian territory that endangers us, or enters our territory and violates our sovereignty, we identify the source of fire and destroy it,” he said.
Turning his sights to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the defense minister said the current period is one of instability, adding that this is expected to last for a prolonged time.
Radical Islamic elements are challenging Egyptian security forces in Sinai, while the Egyptian army and police are under attack, Ya’alon said.
He confirmed that Egypt turned to Israel with requests in recent weeks for approval to send additional armed forces into the peninsula for counter-terrorism missions.
“As long as they invest these forces in combating terror, in accordance with requests from us, and don’t violate the peace treaty, we certainly allow them to combat the challenges that the Islamists are posing in Sinai,” he said.
“As soon as they complete the fighting, of course the situation will go back to what it was,” Ya’alon added.
He described the Rafael corporation as a “national lab, which benefits national security, and enables the IDF and other defense elements to have very many important capabilities in all areas.”
The plant, which employs 7,000 people, contributes to Israel’s capabilities in intelligence, accurate weaponry, networking and active air defenses, Ya’alon said.
Commenting on the EU’s decision to exclude Israeli West Bank produce from trade agreements with Jerusalem, Ya’alon said, “It’s not new that many countries in the world treat Judea and Samaria as an occupied territory, and act accordingly.
We have our policies regarding Judea and Samaria, and we will continue to act according to our policies and interests.”