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Ya'alon Vows 'Harsh' Response to Attacks from Syria

Defense minister levels responsibility on Assad for lethal Golan Heights attack, as IDF source notes focus on search for teens.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/23/2014, 7:48 AM

Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon
Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Monday morning commented on the IAF airstrike in Syria Sunday night, a strike which came in retaliation to an attack from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights Sunday morning that killed one Israeli.

"We see the regime of (Syrian President) Bashar Assad and the Syrian army as responsible for what is done in the territory under its control, and we will continue to respond harshly and strongly to any provocation and attack on our sovereignty," declared Ya'alon.

The defense minister added "we are witnesses in the recent period to repeat persistent attempts to attack Israel from the territory controlled by Assad's regime. We won't allow an attack on Israeli citizens and IDF forces, and will exact a heavy price from those who try to disrupt our lives, whether it's the Syrian army or terrorists working from Syrian territory."

Mohammed Karaka, a 15-year-old from Kafr Arraba in the northern Galilee, was killed as the vehicle he was riding in with his IDF contractor father, along with another contractor, was attacked. The two other passengers were injured in the attack, which has been estimated to be a rocket attack given that it left a hole in a nearby fence.

In response nine Syrian army targets, including military headquarters and firing positions, were struck by the IAF, with direct hits recorded in each strike.

For its part, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad asked the United Nations to take actions against Israel on Sunday, claiming Israel was violating the 1974 ceasefire agreement in the Golan Heights by responding to the attack emanating from Syrian territory.

Statements suggest that the IDF may be uninterested in further operations on the Syrian border however, according to a senior IDF source quoted by Yedioth Aharonoth as saying the top priority remains Operation Brother's Keeper, which aims to rescue the three kidnapped teens.

Israel is not interested in "escalating situation in the north. Efforts are concentrated in Judea and Samaria," according to the source, who added that a portion of the nine Syrian targets were locations where it is thought the rocket attack was launched from.

"That area is a center of friction between the Syrian army and the rebels, and the responsibility lies on the Syrian army," noted the source.