Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday referred to the airstrike on a weapons convoy on the Lebanon-Syrian border last week, saying the Jewish state will not allow Hezbollah to obtain Syrian regime weapons.
"What happened in Syria several days ago [is] proof that when we said something we mean it … we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon," Barak told reporters at a security conference being held in Germany.
This was the first public comment Israel has made regarding the strike.
Barak’s statements came amid reports that the Jewish state is planning to set up a buffer zone inside Syria.
Citing military planners, The Sunday Times reported the buffer zone plan was drawn out by the military and was presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The plan is designed to secure Israel’s 47-mile border with Syria against Islamists if President Bashar al-Assad is to lose power. The intended buffer zone will be similar to the Israeli Security Zone in southern Lebanon from 1985 to 2000.
“We've presented the prime minister with a comprehensive plan to defend Israel’s border after, or perhaps before, the fall of Assad’s regime,” a military source told The Sunday Times.
Israel has already begun erecting a 20ft steel wall along the border overlooking Syrian villages under opposition control. Israel claims Syrian Islamist groups have already infiltrated some of its border villages and that replacing the border fence with a steel wall was necessary.
“The old fence was fine for more than 40 years,” the military source added. “We knew then that there was a strong man in Damascus, but not anymore. The new wall will be good when it’s ready but without the buffer zone mortar and rocket attacks on Israel would be a daily event.”
The Sunday Times also reported that Iran has built up a signal intelligence facility near Dera’a, near the Israeli border, adding that it is among Israel’s future targets.
“The Iranians are still major players in Syria,” the military source was reported as saying. “They have a defense pact with Assad and for the past two years they’ve been trying to help him. But they know he’s doomed and want to win as much lasting influence as possible before he goes.”
“We know they are monitoring our army communication, gathering intelligence and trying to log into our military computers,” the source told the paper. “This is a serious problem for our forces.”
“Israel will miss the Assads,” an Israeli intelligence source told The Sunday Times. “The Assads, father and son, were very nasty people. But with them, we knew that a promise was a promise, and an agreement was as solid as the boulders of Mount Hermon.”