Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Barak accuses Netanyahu of security breach in breaking Israel ambiguity on Syria

A supporter of Lebanon's Hezbollah gestures as he holds a Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun Leban Hezbollah Planned Surprise Attack to'Cause Earthquake in Israel – IDF Chief
Kenny Thornton | 14 January, 2019, 17:31

Israel's airstrike on what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed were Iranian "weapons depots" at Syria's Damascus airport over the weekend may have also targeted and wounded members of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps leadership, according to a report by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida.

"We have been taking action with impressive success to arrest Iran's military entrenchment in Syria", Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised remarks, saying this entailed "hundreds" of attacks over the past several years of Syria's civil war, in which Iranian and Hezbollah forces have backed the Damascus government against rebels and Islamist insurgents.

Israel normally doesn't confirm individual airstrikes in Syria, unless they are raids against Iranian- and Hezbollah-linked targets in the country.

At a weekly cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Netanyahu admitted that Israel had delivered airstrikes against Iranian targets at Damascus' worldwide airport over the past 36 hours.

On Tuesday, Eisenkot will be replace by Maj.

Israel and the United Nations say the tunnels violate a ceasefire resolution made after a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

The Israeli military said a sixth tunnel was found on Saturday, 55 meters (yards) deep and reaching "a few tens of meters" into Israeli territory from 800 meters within Lebanon.

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However, Israel's outgoing military chief of staff Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot revealed in a recent New York Times interview that Israel had "struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit".

Under Eisenkot's command, Netanyahu said the IDF made "great achievements", but added that there "was much more work to be done, which we will do".

Hezbollah has not commented on the tunnels, the existence of which have been confirmed by UNIFIL peacekeepers. The tunnel wasn't operational or a threat to Israel's citizens, Israel's military says. In 2018 alone, he said Israel's air force dropped 2,000 bombs in Syria.

The IDF also said that the "operation stripped from Hezbollah the unique offensive ability that it had built for years as part of an attack plan into Israeli territory that it wanted to conduct to create emergency situations".

Although there are more tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border, the military says this effectively marks the end of the operation.

A month-long war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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