By Yaakov Lapin, Jpost—
Israel will respond with zero tolerance to cross-border artillery fire from Syria, weapons trafficking to terrorists, and the distribution of chemical weapons to terrorists, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday.
Ya’alon spoke at a kibbutz leadership conference at Kibbutz Ma’aleh Hahamisha outside Jerusalem. The defense minister’s comments came three days after international media reports claimed Israeli aircraft carried out air strikes in Syrian airspace, reportedly attacking numerous Hezbollah targets in the Qalamoun mountain region near the Lebanese border, possibly to intercept a weapons convoy to Lebanon.
It was the first reported attack attributed to Israel since Russia began providing air support to the Assad regime and its allies, who are fighting rebels on the ground.
“Those who cross the red lines will be hit,” Ya’alon warned. He also referred to the humanitarian crisis afflicting Syrian villages near the Israeli border, adding that Israel is seeking to provide villagers with blankets, medicines, fuel and any additional required humanitarian assistance.
Referring to Hamas in Gaza, Ya’alon said, “We are conducting a policy that is leading to a reality in which Hamas is deterred from escalating the situation. We see Hamas’s willingness to accept a cease-fire, and not to join in the current round of terrorism. This is not because they have turned Zionists, but because of the price they paid in Operation Protective Edge.
“I know the slogans that say ‘let’s topple and let’s destroy,’ and I say, think things through to the end before acting,” Ya’alon cautioned.
Regionally, Ya’alon said, “there is a new division [of areas among] hostile camps,” naming the Shi’ite-Iranian axis on one side, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which includes Turkey, Qatar and global jihadist organizations on the other.
“The strategic, diplomatic and security challenge is the message we are getting about the unwillingness of too many elements to recognize our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people. Arafat and [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas also do not want to end the conflict on the ’67 borders,” he added.