Netanyahu warns Hezbollah amid high tensions along northern border
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and others, after Israeli forces said they thwarted an infiltration attempt from Syria by suspected militants.
The Israel Defense Forces announced late Monday that it had struck targets in Syria after the militants tried to plant explosives in the Golan Heights. The four suspects were believed to have been killed by an Israeli missile strike while carrying out the attempted attack in the pre-dawn hours of Monday.
Netanyahu, who toured a military base in the central city of Ramle 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 Hezbollah, to consider this,” he said.
Netanyahu added: “These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the IDF behind them and this should be taken seriously.”
On Monday night, the Haaretz daily reported that the military believed that an Iranian proxy militia was responsible for the attempted attack, not Hezbollah, with which Israel has been in a standoff over the past two weeks.
It was not immediately clear who Netanyahu intended by “dispatchers,” and if he was accusing the Syrian regime of having sent the militants to plant the bomb.
The incident came amid heightened tension on Israel’s northern frontier following a recent airstrike attributed to the Israeli military that killed a Hezbollah fighter in Syria and anticipation that the Lebanese terror group would retaliate.
Following the airstrike, the 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 Hezbollah operatives, setting off one of the heaviest exchanges of fire along the volatile Israel-Lebanon frontier since a 2006 war between the bitter enemies.
Israel has sent extra troops and arms to bolster its presence along the northern border, in what reports have called the largest military buildup on the border in over a decade.
Israel considers the Iran-backed Hezbollah to be its most immediate threat. Since battling Israel to a stalemate during a monthlong war in 2006, Hezbollah has gained more battlefield experience fighting alongside the Syrian government in that country’s bloody civil war.
Since 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria, targeting government troops and allied Iranian and Hezbollah forces and vowing to end Iran’s military presence there.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.