Israel Vows to Continue Launching Airstrikes on Targets in Syria
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reaffirmed that Tel Aviv will continue to carry out operations aimed at disrupting weapons transfers from Iran to Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shia movement which Israel considers to be one of the top threats to its security.
"My policy is consistent," he said while on a visit to China. "We will not allow Israel to be attacked from Syrian territory and we will not tolerate the transfer of advanced weaponry [to Hezbollah] to the extent that we detect it. … It's our policy to launch strikes at convoys carrying sophisticated weaponry. … We will continue to attack whenever the Iranians smuggle advanced arms."
Netanyahu added that the Israel Defense Forces would conduct military operations if intelligence data confirms a planned weapons transfer and if the mission is "operationally feasible."
The Israeli prime minister also said that he made his stance on Hezbollah clear during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in March. "Therefore we need this personal connection [with Putin], which is important for Israel's national security," Netanyahu added.
These comments came after Israel carried out several airstrikes on Hezbollah targets near the Syrian city of Palmyra, evoking a tough response from Damascus. The Syrian Arab Army fired three anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli warplanes. One of them was intercepted by the Israeli Arrow missile defense system.
The latest IDF mission in Syria "was targeted not against Hezbollah per se, but rather against warehouses where Iran-made weapons were stored, particularly those armament types that cannot be transferred to a terrorist organization. These include missiles. In addition, Israel launched airstrikes against weapons-laden convoys which were heading toward Lebanon. Hezbollah's military installations or assets of the Syrian Arab Army were not under attack," Israeli political analyst Yakov Kedmi told Vzglyad.
Unlike Russia and China, Israel and the United States consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, while the European Union has blacklisted only the military wing of the Shia movement.
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