Avigdor Lieberman threatens to destroy the Damascus defenses, in response to the launch of the ground-to-air missiles at an Israeli fighter jet. Air raids targeted weapons convoys destined for the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. Israel's army chief: "In the light" of the events in Syria and Lebanon, ready "for any kind of scenario."
Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's defense minister has threatened to destroy the Syrian defense system, following the launch of the ground-to-air missiles against fighter jets attempting to hit Hezbollah targets. "The next time the Syrians use their defensive system against our planes - said the Minister, one of the key figures in the right-wing government in Israel - we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation.”
On March 17, Israeli jets struck several sensitive targets in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the attacks focused on weapons reaching Hezbollah. In response, the Syrian army claimed responsibility for the downing of a jet and to have hit another
A Damascus military source claims the Israeli aircraft were operating in the vicinity of the city of Palmyra, famous for its archaeological site from Roman times taken over several times ny jihadi militias of the Islamic State (IS).
The government of Israel strongly denies Syrian statements; Damascus in the past had advanced similar claims, without providing official confirmation.
This is the most serious confrontation between the two countries, since the war began in Syria in March of 2011.
In April last year, Netanyahu had admitted, for the first time, Israel's attacks against dozens of convoys laden with weapons for Hezbollah in Syrian territory. The Lebanese Shiite movement in 2006 began a war with Israel and now fights alongside the Syrian government against rebel groups and radical movements.
"Every time we find transfers of weapons from Syria to Lebanon - added Lieberman - we will act to stop them. On this there will be no compromise. " The minister pointed the finger at the Syrian leadership, the real "leaders" of this trade. "If we continue to allow this - he concluded - we will do all that is necessary," while avoiding "interfering" in the Syrian conflict or " of provoking a clash with the Russians."
The Israeli army chief Gadi Eisenkot emphasized that Israel will continue to prevent "the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah" and that there will be a "primary objective in the coming conflict, the Lebanese government." According to the senior officer "Hezbollah continues to arm themselves and to grow within the Lebanese borders. "In light of the changes taking place in Lebanon and in Syria - he concluded - the Israeli armed forces will be prepared for any kind of scenario."
During the Six Day War of 1967, Israel conquered the majority of the Golan Heights, ripping part of the Syrian territory. In 1981 the annexation was declared by the Jewish state, but never recognized by the international community. The two countries, at least on paper, are still "at war", even though the borders have long remained calm. But the beginning of the Syrian war has changed the scenario.