Israel will not give up its security interests on any of Israel’s front, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday while on a visit to northern Israel.“We are prepared, ready, and the moment of truth will prove our ability and not give up our security interests,” Liberman said while visiting the Israel Air Force’s air defenses near the city of Safed with Brig.-Gen Zvika Haimovich, commander of the Aerial Defense Division.Liberman visited the Patriot and David Sling batteries, and met with commanders and soldiers, including Capt. Or Na’aman, who commanded the Patriot battery that intercepted a Syrian Sukhoi fighter jet and a Syrian drone which infiltrated into Israeli airspace in July.
According to Liberman, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s resumption of borders control of the country under his rule will bring quiet to the Golan Heights.“From our perspective, the situation is returning to how it was before the civil war, meaning there is a real address, someone responsible, and central rule,” he said, adding that residents in the north should be less wary of a potential flare-up on the border.“It is also Assad’s interest, because he understands what will happen if it does not return to the previous situation, and I assume that he will make his own decisions, however, as I have made clear, we will not give up our security interests.”The defense minister stressed three security points remain priorities. The Syrian regime must strictly adhere to the Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria of 1974, Syrian soil cannot serve as a forward operating base by Iran against Israel, and the country cannot be used as a way station for arms smuggling to Hezbollah in Lebanon.“As soon as all three conditions are fulfilled, we have no interest in interfering or operating within Syrian territory. As soon as it does not exist, we will act in accordance with the security interest of the State of Israel,” he said.Liberman’s visit comes as the IDF completed a large-scale military exercise Thursday in the north, drilling the Northern Command and General Staff on various scenarios to maintain troop preparedness.According to the military, the objective of the drill was to improve the Northern Command’s ability to fight during a single-front war in the north, as well as multi-front scenarios.During the exercise, which was carried out in multiple sectors simultaneously, troops drilled on defensive and offensive maneuver capabilities, as well as firepower and intelligence gathering.The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stressed the scheduled exercise was part of the year’s training program and was intended to maintain troop readiness.Liberman also touched on the situation in Israel’s south, hours after it was announced the entry of gas and fuel was banned from Gaza. The halt was in response to a spike in the number of incendiary aerial devices Palestinians have launched toward Israeli communities, even reaching the city of Beersheba for the first time.“I decided to stop the supply of gas and fuel to the Gaza Strip and only allow in food and medicine until the kite story, the burning, is completely stopped,” he said, emphasizing that Gaza has no other alternative to bring in fuel except for the Kerem Shalom crossing.“I hope that the public in Gaza will put pressure on the Hamas leadership and understand that there are far better alternatives to getting electricity for four hours a day. They must completely stop all violence and if they want to, rehabilitation, and then reconstruction in return for demilitarization.”
Syrian flag raised in Quneitra on Syrian side of Golan Heights, July 27, 2018 (Reuters)