Netanyahu: Israel 'Dealt Heavy Blows' to Iranian, Syrian Forces Over the Weekend

Speaking Sunday at cabinet meeting, premier says Israel's had made it clear its 'rules of action have not changed'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on February 11, 2018.
RONEN ZVULUN/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on Sunday on the flare-up between Israel, Iran and Syria over the weekend, saying that the Israeli military had "dealt some harsh blows."

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Israel has "made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of action have not changed one bit; we will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us."

Netanyahu added that he spoke to the navigator of the downed F-16 plane, and was glad to hear he was "literally back on his feet." According to Netanyahu, there has also been an improvement in the condition of the pilot.

Netanyahu's comments mirror the statements he made on Saturday, when he also referred to his repeated warnings of Iran's military infrignement into Syria as proven correct.

"Our policy is clear," Netanyahu said. "Israel will defend itself against any aggression and any attempt to violate its sovereignty," Netanyahu said. "Iran undertook such an attempt today. It violated our sovereignty, and infiltrated its drone into Israeli airspace from Syria."

The Israeli military said it shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country and struck the Iranian site from which it was launched. Syrian air-defense missiles hit an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, prompting the pilots to eject. Following the downing of the jet, Israel carried out what an Air Force general said was the "largest and most significant" strike in Syria since 1982.

The prime minister's office also confirmed that Netanyahu had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladamir Putin Saturday, who spoke out in favor of avoiding any steps that could lead to a new round of confrontation, voicing concerns similar to those made Saturday by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"We urge all sides to exercise restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation," the ministry said in a statement. "It is necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries in the region."