Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed today the escalated tensions along the northern border with Syria and commented on the IAF’s response to a large-scale rocket attack launched by Iranian forces early Thursday morning.
“The Iranians tried to attack Israel, but no rocket fell in Israeli territory. Some of them fell in Syria, and some were intercepted by the Iron Dome. We hit nearly all Iranian infrastructures in Syria,” Lieberman said at the annual IDC Herzliya Conference. “They must understand: If it rains on us, it will pour on them.”
“Iran is perhaps the only country today that represents extremism not only in ideology but also in activism and its willingness to sacrifice its own citizens and future for the same extreme ideology," Lieberman added.
“Iran has wasted $13 billion in the Syrian civil war and continues to spend $2 billion a year there. Iran is wasting its next generation with its efforts to expand,” he stated.
“We are not going to let Iran turn Syria into an entire military base against Israel,” the minister said, stressing that Israel is not interested in any further escalation in violence with Syria but will retaliate with force against any attack on its territory.
“We are not interfering in the civil war, we are not interfering with our neighbors. We hope that one day they will stop talking about the destruction of Israel. We have no interest in escalating, but we have to be focused. It is a stubborn enemy that has been trying to hurt us for many years,” Lieberman said. “I hope that at this stage we have succeeded in finishing the new chapter in our stand against Iranian extremism.”
Most Extensive Campaign of Retaliatory Strikes
The overnight exchange was the largest-ever direct clash between the Iranian and Israeli militaries. Israel struck 50 Iranian targets in Syria after 20 rockets were fired towards the Golan Heights early Thursday morning by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force, the IDF announced.
The targets included intelligence sites, logistics headquarters, a military compound, and logistics complex in al-Kiswah near the Syrian capital of Damascus, weapons storage sites belonging at Damascus International Airport, intelligence systems and installations, as well as observation, military posts and military hardware in the buffer zone. Additionally, the Iranian launcher from which the Grad rockets and Fajr 5 missiles were fired at Israel was also destroyed overnight.
According to IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the Israeli retaliation was “one of the greatest operations of the Israel Air Force in the past decade.”
Most of the Iranian rockets fell in Syria, the Spokesman said, adding that four missiles had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system which had been deployed in the north.