by WorldTribune Staff, March 20, 2017
Israel’s Defense Minister has warned Syria not to use its air-defense systems against its warplanes after the Syrians fired at Israeli jets attacking a convoy suspected of supplying weapons to the Hizballah militant group.
“The next time the Syrians use their air-defense systems against our planes, we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on March 19.
On March 17, Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defense system was used for the first time to intercept a Syrian S-5 missile fired at Israeli jets that had returned to Israeli airspace after carrying out airstrikes against targets in Syria.
“You have to understand the context, if we strike there is a real reason for it,” Lieberman said during a visit to the IDF induction center.
“We have no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria, either in favor or against [President Bashar] Assad,” he said. “We do not want to clash with the Russians. Our main issue is with the transfer of advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon and so whenever we detect an attempt to smuggle weapons, we will act to prevent it. We will not compromise on this issue.”
Lieberman also addressed the situation in Gaza Strip, saying that “we will not invest Israeli taxpayer money to invest in electricity and water for the residents of Gaza while they are investing their money into tunnels.”
“We are not willing to tolerate any provocation,” he stressed. “The IDF will respond strongly to every rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.”
Incoming rocket sirens were activated on March 19 in Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip. While the army confirmed it was a false alert, at least seven rockets have been fired from the Hamas-run enclave in the last two months, the Jerusalem Post reported.