In a speech delivered Sunday night the eve of 13 Shevat by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a direct message was conveyed to Israel stating that if it considers attacking another facility in its territory, Syria will respond by firing missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Assad reportedly reiterated the threat by sending a message to Israel through Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Syrian honor is above all else,” Assad told Putin, who replied that he would convey the message to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin on Monday in Moscow.
International media have reported on several aerial strikes in Syria in recent months, attributed to Israel attacking Syrian military installations and Hezbollah weapons convoys into and out of the country. Some of the alleged Israeli attacks have been against Iranian forces stationed in the country.
However, Israeli defense officials do not appear moved by the Syrian threats and make it clear that Israel will continue to act as it has done so far and will thwart any attempt to breach the balance of power between the IDF and the countries of the region.
Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Koby Marom, who was in charge of the eastern sector of the northern border, relates to things and seeks to calm the situation while placing things in perspective.
“I suggest that we all relax, because this is only a statement and it is addressed to the internal public of Assad,” Marom said.
“Assad does not have a large number of missiles that can reach Tel Aviv. He did in fact recently gain confidence among Syrians, but he is still in a very low position in his country these days. The last thing he wants to happen is for Israel to attack its infrastructure. Firing a missile at Ben-Gurion Airport is tantamount to declaring war on Israel.
Marom says that Assad has acted wisely in the past seven years, saying that “during the seven years of the grave crisis in Syria, Assad has conducted himself in a rational manner, fighting for his life and gaining security.” Assad and the Russians are not interested in the Iranian takeover of Syria after the war. Putin wants to create stability and build another Syria, and in 2018 we will continue to see reactions to Syria and it will become more difficult, but the chances that Assad will fire toward Ben-Gurion Airport are very low.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)