Netanyahu and Ya'alon at Golani drill 370.
(photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon observed a
Golani Brigade war drill on the Golan Heights on Wednesday, making it clear they
picked that location to send a signal of Israeli determination in the face of a
rapidly changing situation in Syria.
“An exercise on the Golan Heights is
not just a theoretical exercise,” Netanyahu said after watching a brief part of
the multi-day drill on the central Golan. “The situation around us has changed
swiftly. It is volatile and dynamic, and we need to be prepared
While a few months ago there was concern in Jerusalem that
a rebel victory in Syria could bring al-Qaida forces precariously close to
Israel’s border, there is now increasing concern of an Iranian victory in Syria,
and its negative implications for Israel.
Netanyahu, who was last on the
Golan in January, said that even with all available technology, battles are won
by determination and “the ability to break the enemy and instill in them the
fear of death.
“I want to tell you from experience that battle is the
kingdom of uncertainty – regardless of how much training and preparation,” he
The prime minister said he hopes Israel will not “be tested,” but
that if it is “we will withstand any challenge.
“We are not seeking to
challenge anyone, but no one will harm the State of Israel without a response –
a strong and resolute response,” he said.
Ya’alon said he was impressed
by the level of training and readiness exhibited by the Golani soldiers who,
together with other combat units, “could find themselves called into battle at
short notice. Hence this drill, like others held these days, has a special
significance, at this time and in this sector.”
He warned that Israel
would not tolerate a violation of its sovereignty or attacks on its soldiers or
civilians, either on the northern border or from the Gaza Strip.
important to make clear to those on the other side of the border who are
planning to harm us in one way or another, that we are ready and determined to
act with full force,” Ya’alon said.
As Netanyahu was observing a few
minutes of the military exercise, he picked up a field phone and engaged in some
playful banter with an officer on the other end who used the opportunity to sing
the praises of the Golani Brigade.
“We are ready to carry out any
mission,” the officer told the prime minister. When Netanyahu replied, the
officer warned him that those on the “other side” – meaning in Syria – were
listening in to the conversation.
“Let them hear and know we can pass
over to any side,” Netanyahu responded cryptically.
Netanyahu said the
exercise, which included infantry, tanks and an unmanned aerial vehicle that he
took a special interest in, showed that “we are moving with the
The prime minister flew by helicopter to the Golan, at one point
asking the pilot to fly over Beit She’an so he could see the ancient ruins there
Yaakov Lapin contributed to this report.