Ya'alon: IAF strike on Syria sent 'clear message' Israel won't tolerate violations of sovereignty

Defense ministers remarks come hours after IDF strikes Syrian army targets following Golan rocket attacks.

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January 28, 2015 08:52
3 minute read.
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IDF soldiers near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Amid tension in the North, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday that the IAF strike on Assad-controlled territory the day before relayed a "clear message" that Israel will "respond with force and determination" to any violations of its sovereignty.

The defense minister said Israel held the Syrian regime as responsible for attacks from its territory.

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Israel "knows how to exact a heavy price from any regime or organization from where a violation of our sovereignty or fire against Israel will originate," the defense minister added.

"We have no intention of ignoring or being tolerant of terrorist activities and attempts to harm our civilians and soldiers. We are working calmly and with determination, responsibly and with good judgment to safeguard the security of Israeli citizens against states and terrorist elements bent on disrupting our lives," he added.

The IDF maintained an increased presence in the area after the Israel Air Force (IAF) struck Syrian army artillery targets late Tuesday night in response to an earlier rocket attack carried out on the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon.

"The IDF views the Syrian regime as responsible for what occurs in its territory, and will act at any time and any way it sees fit to protect the citizens of Israel," the IDF said.

The targets were accurately struck, the IDF added.



IDF confirmation of the strike came minutes following reports of air sirens being heard in the Golan Heights, which later proved to be false alarms.


Two rockets exploded in the northern Golan Heights on Tuesday, triggering air raid sirens and sending local residents, including some 1000 visitors to the Mount Hermon ski site, fleeing for cover.

The projectiles exploded in open territory, failing to cause injuries or damages. The IDF quickly returned fire, directing artillery fire at the sources of rocket fire in Syria.

Hermon was evacuated of all tourists in the minutes following the attacks.

A security source later said Hezbollah was behind Tuesday's rocket attacks.

The source added that the IDF continues to be in high preparation mode for potential further events. "Syria is responsible for what happens on Syrian territory," the source said. "We will see how further events unfold." A second source added that there are no planned school cancellations or special security instructions for residents of the north at this time. The source said the Home Front Command would notify civilians if changes occur. The Hermon site remained closed.

The rocket attacks come nine days after a strike on a Hezbollah convoy in Syria which has been widely attributed to Israel.

Six Hezbollah operatives were killed in the strike, along with six Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) operatives, including a high-ranking general. Among the Hezbollah operatives killed in the strike was Jihad Mougniyeh, the son of Hezbollah's former military leader, Imad Moughniyeh, who according to Western intelligence sources, was in the midst of setting up a terrorism base on the Syrian Golan and plotting rocket attacks, bombings, anti-tank missile strikes, and cross-border infiltrations against Israel.

Iran and Hezbollah-affiliated figures have vowed to retaliate for the strike.

Responding to the incident, Labor leader Isaac Herzog said "it is clear to me and to all of us that we can trust the IDF and security establishment and they will know to make the right decisions." According to Herzog, there was a tangible strain on citizens' personal safety during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's tenure, in Jerusalem, near the Gaza border, in Tel Aviv and in the Golan.

"The time has come to bring back Israelis' sense of security - personal and social. One depends on the other," he added, speaking to students at Sapir College in Sderot. "We need to be determined and enlist the world to Israel's side for the good of our security interests, because we cannot make a living without security, and there is no security without being able to make a living The IDF has over the past several days been on alert across the north, deploying air defense, armored units, infantry, and artillery guns.

On Monday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Iran is seeking to open a new front against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights.

Iran seeks to attack Israel, :whether from Lebanon with Hezbollah or from Gaza, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, or whether it’s what we saw last Sunday – an Iranian arm that is beginning to develop, to open a front against us on the Golan Heights," Ya'alon said.

The targets of last week’s strike included senior Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa; and IRGC Gen. Muhammad Ali Allahdadi.

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