Friday, 03 December 2021 03:18 GMT

Israel says Hezbollah ordered latest Golan fire


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Jerusalem: Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that mortar and rocket fire from Syria that landed in Israel last week was ordered by arch-foe Hezbollah, without the involvement of the Syrian regime.

Speaking to senior members of his Yisrael Beitenu party in parliament, Lieberman said the fire into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights was "definitely" not random spillover from fighting in the Syrian civil war, as in several previous incidents.

"This was deliberate fire by a local squad operated by Hezbollah," Lieberman's party spokesman quoted him as saying, without elaborating on his source for the information.

Israel fought a devastating 2006 war with Hezbollah and has voiced concern the Lebanese Shiite militant group's involvement in Syria risks opening up a new front.

Israel also says that Hezbollah ally Iran is using the Shiite group to help expand its own presence in Syria, which borders Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday used a speech in Israel's parliament to praise US President Donald Trump's refusal to certify the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and to send a warning to Tehran.

"Every enemy who threatens us with destruction must know that he places himself in danger of a fatal blow," he said.

Hezbollah is also a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Lieberman said Damascus was not implicated in incidents on Thursday and Saturday in which rockets and mortar shells hit open ground in the Israeli sector.

Israel responded with tank fire against Syrian military positions, saying that it held "the Syrian regime accountable for any aggression from within its territory."

"Hezbollah did it in isolation from the Assad regime," Lieberman said in Hebrew, putting the blame on its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

"It was a personal order from Nasrallah to keep it secret from Assad," he said, adding that nevertheless Israel saw the Syrian regime as responsible for attacks launched from Syrian soil.

"Especially today when it controls 90 percent of the territory," Lieberman said.

He called on Damascus and on Russian forces deployed in Syria to restrain Hezbollah, which he said sought to "drag us into the Syrian swamp".

"I hope that everyone is sufficiently responsible to prevent that," he added.

Israel has sought to avoid becoming directly involved in the six-year civil war in Syria, though it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it, a move never recognised by the international community.

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