Netanyahu Defends Confirmation of Syria Strike: I Wouldn't Reveal Things They Don't Know

'When our airplanes are flying, they know very well that it's us,' Netanyahu says after defying Israeli defense establishment by taking credit for attack

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending an international conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, February 14, 2019.
AFP

WARSAW - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Thursday his decision to confirm Israeli strikes on Syria that were reported earlier in the week. 

Discussing the reason Israel usually maintains ambiguity when addressing its actions along the northern border with Syria, Netanyahu said:"I wouldn't reveal things they [the Syrians] don't know. When our airplanes are flying over the area they know very well that it's us there. We have a clear policy: to demonstrate our determination to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria."

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The prime minister made this comment while briefing reporters in Warsaw, where he is currently staying for a diplomatic conference whose theme is the Middle East.

Netanyahu on Tuesday confirmed again that Israel struck Hezbollah targets in Syria on Monday. The confirmation by the premier ran contrary to the position of the Israeli defense establishment, as senior defense officials refrained from addressing the incident on the Syrian Golan Heights.

"We operate every day, including yesterday, against Iran and its attempts to entrench itself in the region," Netanyahu said.

Syrian state media reported on Monday that Israeli tank shells hit a demolished hospital and an observation post in Syria's southern Quneitra province near the border with Israel.

Israel's policy of ambiguity regarding its Syria strikes has been all-but-lifted recently by Netanyahu and former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

As Haaretz's Amos Harel wrote, it began with Eisenkot’s proud assertion to the New York Times of attacks on thousands of targets in the north during his tenure. Last month, Netanyahu took public responsibility for attacking Iranian weapons stores in Syria.

"Iran is issuing threats against us. On the fortieth anniversary of their revolution, they threatened to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa. I said that they won't succeed and if they try it will be the last anniversary they celebrate," Netanyahu added.