Liberman says it’s time for Israel to ‘bite, not bark’ at northern aggression
Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense
Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday that it is “not the time to bark” at Syria, but to “bite hard” in defense of its territory in light of recent hostilities on the Syrian border.
Liberman, who was on a planned visit to the northern Israeli village of Kiryat Shmona near the Lebanese border, said that Israel would continue to respond to any “provocation” on its northern fronts.
“This is not the time for talk, it's time for action,” Liberman said. “We will respond to any provocation and will continue to defend our interests.”
"It's not the time to bark, but to bite. And we will bite hard," he added.
Liberman’s comments came days after the most serious confrontation between arch foes Israel and Iran since Syria's civil war began in 2011, sparked by the incursion of an Iranian drone into Israeli airspace from the war-torn country.
Israel retaliated with airstrikes deep within Syrian territory. An Israeli F16 jet was downed when Syrian air defenses responded by firing anti-aircraft missiles.
Israel has repeatedly expressed concerns over Iran’s expanding aggression in the region and its efforts to set up factories to manufacture weapons within Lebanese territory as well as its establishment of missile factories in Syria which has contributed to Hezbollah’s growing military stockpile.
In the event of a war with Hezbollah, Israel’s concern centers on a possible power vacuum emerging in war-torn Syria where Iran could utilize strong Russian influence to establish military bases in the country with the aim of opening up a second front against Israel.
Liberman acknowledged Israel’s differences with Russia on the matter, noting that “each side has its own interests.”
He added, however, that "open dialogue" with Russia prevents unnecessary friction" in the arena.
Despite militarily backing Assad’s government for almost three years, Russia has allowed Israel freedom of movement in Syria’s skies and a statement distributed by Netanyahu’s office after their phone call on Saturday insisted that would continue.
The Kremlin asked all parties in Saturday’s events not to take further action that could trigger a "dangerous escalation."
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