TEL AVIV – Israel will respond with “full force” to any attacks from the Islamic State, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said following Sunday’s clash between IDF troops and members of the terror group along the border with Syria.
Liberman clarified that the response would be “immediate” and would not necessitate any prior coordination with other countries fighting in Syria.
Sunday marked the first time IS directly attacked Israeli forces across the border, resulting in a retaliation that killed four terrorists from the IS-affiliated Shuhada al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade).
“For the first time an Islamic State force attacked our soldiers and we replied appropriately — with a powerful response,” Liberman said. “Israel is not looking for a fight but when we are faced with provocation — in Gaza, on the Syrian or Lebanese borders — we will respond with full force, as was done here.”
Breitbart Jerusalem cited Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of IDF intelligence, who said that the incident “was not a Daesh-style [Islamic State] planned attack” in which vehicles are typically loaded with explosives and suicide bombers.
For that reason, Yadlin said, it is unlikely that the attack was anything more than a spur-of-the-moment exchange of fire.
Yadlin added, however, that even though IS has been careful not to attack Israel until now – simply because the terror group already has enough enemies to contend with in Syria – Sunday morning’s attack may reflect a change in policy.
“If they did change policy, it will be because they want to have some propaganda achievement in the Arab world and [win a] little bit of sympathy for attacking Israel,” Yadlin, who currently serves as the Director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said that Israel would not tolerate attacks from IS or other groups along the border.
“There have been several attempts to attack Israel’s forces along the border,” the prime minister said. “We will not allow any drizzle [of assaults] and if necessary, we will attack the enemy.”
Israel has made it clear that it holds the Syrian government responsible for any hostile activities originating from Syrian territory.
After Sunday’s clash, field workers and residents near the border were instructed to evacuate until calm was restored.
On November 9, a mortar landed in the Golan Heights from residual spillover of internal fighting between the Assad regime and rebel forces in the Syrian civil war. No injuries were reported.