Netanyahu Warns Hizbullah after Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned Hizbullah and others after Israeli forces said they thwarted an infiltration attempt from Syria by suspected militants.
The Israeli military announced late Monday that it had struck targets in Syria after the militants tried to plant explosives in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israel struck the four suspects, who were believed to have been killed.
Syrian state-run news agency SANA said Israeli helicopters rocketed Syrian army positions near Quneitra in the south but caused only material damage. It also said air defenses had gone into action near the Syrian capital.
Netanyahu, who toured a military base on Tuesday, said Israel would not hesitate to take further action.
"We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves. I suggest to all of them, including Hizbullah, to consider this," he said.
"These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the (military) behind them and this should be taken seriously," the veteran premier added.
Several Israeli media outlets reported that Monday's actions were in response to an increased threat from Iran-backed Hizbullah, which has a significant presence in Syria.
The incidents come amid heightened tension on Israel's northern frontier following a recent Israeli airstrike that killed a Hizbullah fighter in Syria and anticipation that the Iran-backed Lebanese group would retaliate.
Following the airstrike, the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights was hit by explosives fired from Syria and Israel responded by attacking Syrian military positions and beefing up its forces in the area.
Last week, Israel also said it thwarted an infiltration attempt from Lebanon by Hizbullah militants, after which it reported a clash and bombed Lebanese border areas, in one of the heaviest flare-ups along the volatile Israel-Lebanon frontier since a 2006 war between the bitter enemies.
Hizbullah denied involvement in those incidents but said that its retaliation to the killing of one of its fighters "will certainly come."
Israel considers Hizbullah to be its most immediate threat. Since battling Israel to a stalemate during a monthlong war in 2006, Hizbullah has gained more battlefield experience fighting alongside the Syrian government in that country's bloody civil war.