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Israel vows to strike back if attacked by Syria

August 27, 2013|By Edmund Sanders
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, speaks during the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, speaks during the… (Dan Balilty / AFP/Getty…)

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday issued the starkest warning to date in response to recent saber-rattling by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, which has said it might respond to a U.S. strike by attacking Israel.

“We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond with great force,” Netanyahu said Tuesday after huddling for a second consecutive day with key Cabinet members to discuss the possible ramifications of a U.S. strike against Syria.

Speaking at a memorial service for fallen soldiers, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said, “Those seeking to strike us will find us sharper and fiercer than ever. Our enemies must know we are determined to take any action needed to defend our citizens.”

Their comments followed statements this week by Syrian officials that they would hold Israel responsible for any U.S. strike carried out in response to the Syrian military's alleged use of chemical weapons.

On Monday, Khalaf Muftah, a senior Baath Party official, accused Israel of being “behind the [Western] aggression,” and warned that Israel “will therefore come under fire.”

Syrian officials often seek to focus blame on Israel as a way of rallying support among the Syrian people.

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edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Twitter: @edmundsanders

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