TEL AVIV – In comments that appeared to refer to the Syria missile strike attributed to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the Jewish state will retaliate against anyone harboring aspirations to harm his country.
Both Syria and Russia blamed Israel for the attack which saw 14 killed. Israel has not confirmed the allegations.
Netanyahu made his remarks from the Gaza border town of Sderot, which has been the target of rocket attacks from the coastal enclave for almost two decades.
“We have one clear and simple rule and we seek to express it constantly: if someone tries to attack you – rise up and attack him. We will not allow, here on the Gaza border, them to hurt us. We will hurt them,” he said.
“Security in the present is a necessary condition for security in the future and what we have here today is a powerful expression for our future security,” Netanyahu added.
On Monday, Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza after a group of Palestinians were caught planting explosive devices in Israeli territory after breaching the security fence.
Israel was also charged with carrying out the strike in Syria. The Jewish state has conducted several strikes over the border but Russia has until now remained silent.
The U.S. and France denied any involvement despite statements from both countries condemning the Assad regime after Saturday’s chemical weapons attack in Douma.
Moscow said it had not been informed of the strike in advance, which was a major “cause for concern” since Russian personnel could have been present at the Tiyas air base when it was attacked, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“This is a very dangerous development. I hope at least that the U.S. military and those of the countries participating in the coalition led by the United States understand that,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday.
On at least two occasions in the past, Israel has targeted the air base — also known as T-4 — claiming it housed an Iranian drone program.
Of the 14 killed in Monday’s strike, four were listed as Iranian nationals. Iranian regime-affiliated media identified one of the fatalities as a senior officer in the country’s UAV program. A separate report from the Tasnim news agency on Tuesday said that seven of those killed were Iranian nationals, and named one as a colonel in the air force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the 14 killed were either Iranians or members of Iran-backed groups.
Russia’s defense ministry charged Israel with using two F-15 planes and launching eight missiles from Lebanese airspace, five of which were intercepted.
Moscow noted that no Russians were injured in the strike.
“According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Air Defense system was deployed from the Mezzeh Air Base after the jets entered Syria from Lebanon’s Beqa’a Valley,” Lebanese news site Al-Masdar News reported.
While not directly confirming the reports, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan seemed to address the strike in comments to the Knesset.
“I won’t comment on the security matter being attributed to us, but the fact that this morning they are attributing to us what they are attributing to us shows the independence of Israel in every way. The State of Israel presents an object of admiration for the entire world,” Erdan said.