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Netanyahu Admits Israel Behind Strike Against Iranian Weapons Depots in Syria

Netanyahu takes aim at graft probes ahead of Israel polls
AFP/GALI TIBBON
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday confirmed that Israel conducted an airstrike against Iranian warehouses storing weapons at the international airport in Damascus over the weekend.

“In the last 36 hours, the air force attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the international airport in Damascus,” the Israeli prime minister said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria, just as we promised,” he added.

The Syrian army claimed that “Israeli warplanes coming from the direction of the Galilee fired several missiles toward the vicinity of Damascus” on Friday night.

During his remarks to the cabinet, Netanyahu also thanked outgoing IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot for his service to the country.

“On Tuesday you will complete 40 years of dedicated service in the IDF, four of them as Chief-of-Staff. During this time we worked together against varied threats in order to build up Israel’s security,” Netanyahu said.

“In achieving these goals, the IDF – under your command – worked with exceptional cooperation with all of the security arms – the ISA, Mossad, Israel Police and other bodies. We worked with impressive success to block Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. In this framework, the IDF attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets hundreds of times,” the prime minister said.

He praised the IDF chief’s work against the manufacture of precision weapons in Lebanon, dismantling Hezbollah’s attack tunnels during Operation Northern Shield, action against Hamas on the Gaza border and in thwarting hundreds of terrorist attacks in the West Bank.

“The IDF has major achievements under your command. We yet have much work to do and we will do it,” Netanyahu said.

“Overnight, the air force also attacked on the southern front against Hamas targets in Gaza and this morning we announced the exposure of an additional tunnel, a main tunnel, perhaps the most important, that crossed the border into our territory. We are thus approaching the completion of the goal we set at the outset of Operation Northern Shield – the eradication of Hezbollah’s tunnels weapon,” he said.

“Gadi, this is a worthy conclusion to your term as the 21st Chief-of-Staff. On behalf of the people and the nation, I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to the people and the state. I will have more to add at the farewell ceremony, but at this stage I will suffice with two words: Thanks Gadi,” the Israeli premier concluded.

Eisenkot, who will step down on Tuesday, will be replaced by Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

In the past days, Eisenkot gave a series of interviews with both Israeli and foreign media, warning Iran against entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

In an interview with The New York Times, the general said that Israel had carried out attacks on “thousands of [Iranian] targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit.”

Eisenkot also said Israel needed to focus on Iran as opposed to secondary enemies such as Hamas in Gaza.

“When you fight for many years against a weak enemy,” he said of Hamas, “it also weakens you.”

In 2018 alone, Israel dropped 2,000 bombs on Iranian targets, he said.

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