Israeli Defense Chief on Syria: It's Not the Time to Bark, but to Bite Hard

During a visit in the north, Lieberman says Israel will respond to 'any provocation' and continue to defend its interests

Lieberman during a weekly cabinet meeting, February 4, 2018.
Jim Hollander/AP

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that Israel will react to any "provocation" in the north and will continue to defend its interests.

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"I tried not to speak in the last few days," Lieberman said during a scheduled visit in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona. "This is not the time for talk, it's time for action... We will respond to any provocation and will continue to defend our interests.

"It's not the time to bark, but the time to bite. And we will bite hard," Lieberman added.

The defense chief, who was visiting security-related firms in the area, was referring to hostilities in the countries north over the weekend, when Israel carried out an extensive strike in Syria after an Iranian drone infiltrated its airspace from there. An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down by Syrian missiles during the air raid.

As for the differences Israel has with Russia, which on Saturday urged "all sides to exercise restraint and avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation," Lieberman said it shows that "each side has its own interests."

He added, however, that "the fact that there's open dialogue [with Russia] prevents unnecessary friction."

Asked whether he was satisfied with the United States' policy on Syria and Lebanon, he said that "the U.S. has its own interests," but that he was pleased with their support.

"This is a naïve question," Lieberman said. "The United States is acting in accordance with its interests. This is our most important strategic ally, we saw that after the operation three days ago, the U.S. publically stood by Israel and supported it and we thank it for that."

"We are certainly very pleased with U.S. backing Israel."