Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday that Israel will not allow Russia to impose restrictions on its activities in Syria.
In an interview with the Walla news site, Liberman refused to confirm that Israel was responsible for a strike on Iranian forces at a Syrian air base last week, despite an unnamed senior military source having told The New York Timesthat the Jewish state was behind it.
“We have to do our job,” Liberman said, adding that “all options are on the table.”
“We will not allow Iranian consolidation in Syria. We won’t allow any restriction when it comes to Israel’s security interests,” he continued.
At the same time, the defense minister asserted that Israel had succeeded in averting “direct friction” with Moscow and that the two countries were in constant contact, “which has proven itself.”
“We don’t meddle in Syria’s internal affairs and don’t try to fix the world,” the defense minister added. “We only deal with Israel’s security and the Russians understand this very well.”
He asserted that Iran also targets Israel through its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, terror groups that would not be able to function “for a single day” without funding from Tehran.
Liberman warned that Israel will also not allow Gaza to become an “Iranian base” either.
He said that Israel’s strategy regarding the coastal enclave entails its demilitarization, a prisoner swap deal with Hamas, and finally its rehabilitation.
“Gaza residents have to understand that they can become the Singapore of the Middle East,” he said. “As long as Hamas is in control there, there will be nothing.”
Tehran threatened Monday to deliver a response to the alleged Israeli strike, saying it would come “at the right time” and that Israel would “regret” what it had done.
“The Zionist entity will sooner or later receive the necessary response and will regret its misdeeds,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told reporters in a weekly meeting, according to Iranian news media.
“The Zionist regime should not be able to take action and be exempt from punishment,” Qasemi said, adding that “the Syrian and resistance forces will respond in a timely fashion and appropriately in the region.”