Israeli military aircraft targeted Syrian military positions early Wednesday morning in response to an attack on its soldiers in the Golan Heights on Tuesday, sending a message that it will not tolerate drawing its troops into the raging civil war across the border.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that its targets included a Syrian army training facility, military headquarters, and artillery batteries.
On Tuesday, the IDF asserted that the Syrian army had “aided and abetted” the roadside bombing of its troops in which four were wounded. Following the detonation of the explosive device, Israeli forces initially responded with artillery fire aimed at Syrian military positions.
The Arabic network Al Arabiya reported that the attack against the Israeli soldiers was part of a kidnapping attempt, though that was not corroborated by other news outlets.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon blamed the Assad government for the attack and issued an ominous warning.
A wounded Israeli soldier is treated in the Golan Heights, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. A roadside bomb hit an Israeli patrol near the frontier with the Golan Heights on Tuesday, the army said, wounding four soldiers in the most serious violence to strike the area since the Syrian conflict began three years ago. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed the strategic area in a move that was not internationally recognized. (AP Photo/Jinipix)
“We won’t tolerate any breach of our sovereignty or attacks against our soldiers and civilians,” Yaalon said in a statement. “We will react with might and resolve against anyone who acts against us, no matter where and when, as we demonstrated last night. Anyone who tries to attack us will be signing their own death sentence.”
Yaalon further said, "We see the Assad regime as responsible for what happens in its territory, and if it will continue to cooperate with terrorists striving to harm the state of Israel, we will continue to collect a heavy price from him, in such a way that he will regret his actions."
“The attack against IDF troops yesterday is an unacceptable escalation of violence from Syria,” IDF Spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said of roadside bombing. “We will not tolerate this threat against Israeli civilians or troops, and we will fulfill our mission: to prevent, protect and defend against hostilities from Syria.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out the security challenges that the ongoing Syrian hostilities pose for Israel after the roadside bombing on Tuesday.
"The border with Syria has recently become inundated with terrorists from Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and this has posed a security challenge for Israel. In recent years we have managed to ensure quiet as the civil war in Syria raged on. We will continue to ensure the security of Israelis," Netanyahu said.
Reuters noted that Tuesday’s wounding of four soldiers marked Israel’s worst casualties since the beginning of the civil war in Syria three years ago.
"The attack against the IDF today is the most serious border incident since the beginning of the Syrian civil war," the IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said on Tuesday.