Netanyahu remarks on pre-emptive strikes appear to acknowledge attack on Syria border

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Security Cabinet view the border with Syria from the Golan Heights on Feb. 6, 2018. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is dealing with outside threats by striking back and also preemptively, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday hours after Israel apparently fired at an Iran-backed Hezbollah facility on the Syria border.

Syrian state media reported that Israel fired several missiles at a town on the Golan Heights border and said its air defenses had intercepted several of the rockets. Netanyahu’s remarks were an apparent acknowledgement of the reported attack.

“The chain of tests that we are dealing with is unending,” he said at the state memorial ceremony for former President Ephraim Katzir. “We respond vigorously and with force to all attacks against us. However, we do not take action only after the fact. We deny the enemy’s capabilities before the fact. We are acting methodically and consistently to prevent our enemies from establishing offensive bases against us in our vicinity.”

Hours after the alleged attack in Syria, Israel scrambled its fighter jets after a small drone from Lebanon penetrated Israeli airspace. The drone reportedly quickly returned to Lebanon.

Israel has been more direct in recent months about acknowledging airstrikes on Syria, usually targeted bases linked with Iran.