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Gantz Warns Assad: Don't Escalate the Situation

"If Assad causes the situation in the Golan Heights to deteriorate, he will pay the price," warns IDF Chief of Staff.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/22/2013, 2:46 AM

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
Flash 90

The IDF will not allow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to escalate the situation along Israel’s northern border, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said on Tuesday.

"If Assad will cause the situation in the Golan Heights to deteriorate, he will pay the price," Gantz said during a conference at Haifa University.

"We will not allow the Golan Heights to become a comfort space for Assad," he stressed. "If he causes a deterioration he will have to bear the consequences. I'm not a litigious person, but he must know that we will know how to protect and also how to respond if necessary."

The remarks were made hours after an incident in which Israel destroyed an unspecified Syrian target, after fire from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border damaged an IDF vehicle.

The Syrian army claimed that it destroyed an IDF vehicle in the Golan Heights which crossed the ceasefire line. The IDF denied this but admitted that the vehicle had been damaged.

A video released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit shows how shots were fired from Syria at an IDF patrol and how IDF forces returned fire.

Gantz vehemently denied that the Syrians had destroyed the military vehicle and also rejected the argument that an IDF patrol had crossed the ceasefire line.

“The patrol was clearly along the border fence in Syria. It did not enter Syria, that is nonsense. The patrol was fired upon, once, a second time and a third time, clearly from a position in Syria,” he said.

There have been several incidents of fire from Syria hitting Israel in the last few months, including mortar shells. While the IDF said it saw the shells as "strays," it responded with fire on some of the occasions.

Tuesday morning’s incident took place 24 hours after IDF soldiers carrying out routine security assignments along the border with Syria reported that shots were fired in their direction from the Syrian side of the border.

No one was reported hurt in the incident.