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Why did Netanyahu confirm Israeli attack in Syria?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria on Feb. 11, reflecting the intensified battle by the Israel Defense Forces against Iranian entrenchment there.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RC1C1651BBA0

On Feb. 11, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks struck command posts belonging to the Syrian army close to the Israeli border in the Quneitra area. This was an unusual strike. Usually, Israel employs its air force to attack Iranian targets in the Syrian space. This time, due to the short ranges involved, tanks — not planes — fired directly on the Syrian positions, causing damage to the infrastructure and evidently harming the people manning the positions. On the same day, Syria disseminated information about two Iranians who were killed in the attack, but later reports were amended to list the wounded — not dead — victims. According to other reports, Israeli planes also participated in the attack. The IDF refused to comment on this event and returned to its old ambiguity policy that had long since characterized Israeli activity in Syria before the recent swashbuckling and ostentatious policy led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But the ambiguity policy survived less than 24 hours. On the night of Feb. 13, Netanyahu flew to Poland and, facing cameras in the airport, took responsibility for the assault. He said, “We are operating every day, including yesterday, against Iran and against its attempts to entrench itself in the area. I can tell you unequivocally that the economic pressure is being felt and that we can see the economic crisis affecting also Iran’s attempts against us. We can see cuts of budgets, cuts of forces, withdrawal of forces, and we can see this in all arenas around the world without exception. We see it in Syria, we see it in Lebanon, we see it also in Gaza and we also see it in very important weaponry systems that Iran is struggling to deploy because of, among other things, financial problems, and first of all because of Israel’s active military resistance.’’

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