TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Iran that Israel would continue to hit back hard just as it had done earlier in the day with strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
“While we do not make light of Iran’s threats, neither are we deterred by them because anyone who tries to hurt us will get hurt far worse,” Netanyahu said at a Jerusalem Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. “We have proven this many times in the history of our state. We proved it just last night.”
He added that some Arab states see Israel as an ally against Iran.
“Since 1967, a large number of Arab and Muslim countries have sobered up and today, thanks to our strength, they cooperate with us in an unprecedented manner,” Netanyahu said.
In the predawn hours of Sunday, IDF planes and helicopters hit several sites belonging to the Syrian army, including two artillery batteries, several observation and intelligence outposts, and an SA-2 type air defense unit, the military said in a statement.
The strikes were in response to two rockets fired at Israel the previous night.
“Every year Iran transfers to its protege Hezbollah $700 million,” Netanyahu said. “These enormous amounts are used to fuel the endless aggression by Iran and its satellites in our region. Our neighbors know this, all the Arab states know it, and that is one of the things bringing them to a renewed closeness with us.”
Seven non-Syrian fighters were among the 10 killed in the Israeli retaliatory strikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
According to Syrian media, Israel also attacked Iranian and other proxy militia sites, including training facilities and weapons warehouses, southwest of the capital Damascus. Three of the ten killed were Syrian regime fighters.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu said he had instructed the IDF to take “strong action” against Iran.
“We will not tolerate firing at our territory and we will respond with great force to any aggression against us. This has been the consistent policy that I have led, together with the government, and this is what we will continue to do for the security of Israel,” he said.
Israel holds the Assad regime responsible for any attacks against Israel from Syrian territory.
Saturday night’s rocket attacks seem to be similar in nature to a January attack in which an Iranian-made missile was launched at Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights. On both occasions, medium-, 22-mile range rockets were launched.
Later this month, Jerusalem will host an unprecedented security summit between Israel, Russia and the U.S., the White House said in a statement last week.
“In June, United States National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton, Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev will meet in Jerusalem, Israel to discuss regional security issues,” the statement read.
The meeting is likely to focus mainly on Iran’s efforts to entrench itself militarily in Syria.