Israel Vows ‘Harsh Response’ to Any Syrian Ops in Demilitarized Golans

On Sunday night, Syrian air defense forces thwarted a strike that targeted the Tiyas military air base in Homs province, with Syrian state media placing the responsibility on Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed to “respond harshly” to any attempts by the Syrian military to enter the demilitarized area in the Golan Heights.

“For our part, we will sanctify the 1974 disengagement agreement and there too we will insist that every last letter be abided by, and any violation will meet a harsh response from the State of Israel,” the minister announced, speaking in parliament.

The Defense Ministry’s statement comes after an incident two days ago when an Israeli military aircraft targeted Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights after a rogue shell fell between Israeli-controlled and Syrian government-held territories. Tel Aviv claims the right to open fire on any military target on Syrian territory which it considers to be violating the 1974 agreement.

The abovementioned agreement is a UN-monitored armistice that forbids a military buildup on both sides of the demarcation line. The Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria was signed in 1974 and officially ended the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Meanwhile, late on July 8, Syrian air defense forces thwarted a strike that targeted the the Tiyas military air base. According to the media, missiles at the base in Homs were launched from Israel. However, the Israeli defense minister said he was unaware of the attack and “only read about it in a newspaper.”

Israel has repeatedly stated that it is vital to maintain control over the Golan, citing the threat emanating from from Iran and Syria. Since the beginning of the war in Syria, the Golan Heights have witnessed a number of confrontations.

Israeli-Syrian relations are strained, particularly over the disputed Golan Heights. Israel occupied the region in the 1967 Six-Day War with Syria and annexed the territory in 1981. The international community has not recognized the annexation.