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Netanyahu and Yaalon at Golani drill 370.(Photo by: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Netanyahu says Israel will withstand any challenge to its security
By HERB KEINON
06/26/2013
Prime minister’s trip to the Golan comes amid growing concern about possible Iranian victory in Syria.
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 accordingly.”

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 said.

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.

“It is 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 times.”

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 from above.

Yaakov Lapin contributed to this report.
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