For the second time in just 12 hours, air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights right past midnight early Wednesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling. The alarms sounded as Israeli Air Force jets struck several targets on the Syrian side, in response to rocket attacks earlier in the day.
The sirens, which usually signal incoming attacks, were heard in several towns in the area including the Druze villages of Majdal Shams and Mas’ade, the town of Neve Atid which is adjacent to the Mount Hermon ski resort and Nimrod.
The Israeli military said it confirmed direct hits on a number of Syrian army posts, hours after two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Israeli-controlled region. The projectiles set off the air raid sirens in the same area Tuesday mid-morning.
The rocket fire from Syria was a “blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” the IDF said in a statement overnight Tuesday-Wednesday following the air strikes. “The IDF considers the Syrian regime responsible for any [attacks] originating from Syrian soil, and will act at any time and in way way it sees fit to protect Israeli citizens. These [strikes] were accurate, direct hits.”
An IDF source told the Ynet news site that the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah was behind the rocket fire earlier in the day. He added that Israel holds Syria responsible, as the launches originated in its territory.
Speaking to diplomats Tuesday at a Holocaust memorial event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that whoever decides to challenge Israel will find Israel is well-prepared to respond.
“Those who play with fire – will be hit with fire,” Netanyahu warned.
After Tuesday morning’s rocket fire, roads in the area were closed as a precautionary measure as police searched for rocket remains, and the Mount Hermon ski slopes were evacuated. The Hermon ski site was expected to be open Wednesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran’s ayatollahs of “planning a new genocide” against the Jewish people and vowed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
During a speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day Tuesday, Netanyahu said that his duty as PM was to “ensure that the State of Israel will never again be threatened with destruction,” and that the agreement being negotiated between the P5+1 world powers and Iran did just that
“The pending agreement with Iran is an agreement that endangers the State of Israel. It leaves Iran with the capabilities that will allow it to arm itself with nuclear weapons, one bomb at first and afterwards many atomic bombs. We cannot live with such an agreement,” he said at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, adding that Israel will “reject any agreement that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state.”
“The ayatollahs in Iran, they deny the Holocaust while planning another genocide against our people. The Jewish people will defend itself by itself against any threat. That’s what the Jewish state is all about,” he went on.
Netanyahu warned that a nuclear deal with Tehran was “sure to spark a nuclear arms race in the region that would turn the Middle East into a nuclear tinderbox.”
Vowing to vigorously oppose any such scenario, Netanyahu said he will do what “needs to be done to ensure the security of the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state.”
The prime minister lamented the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world, and blasted the “obsession with the Jewish people and their state.”
Along with the assault and vilification of Jews in Europe, the Mideast and the West, Netanyahu said Israel was also being “assaulted with the same slurs and libels that have been leveled at the Jews since time immemorial.
“Some things just don’t change. But I can tell you today what has changed.We have changed. The Jews have changed. We are no longer a stateless people endlessly searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to protect us. Today we are an independent and sovereign people in our ancestral homeland. Today we can speak out against the hateful voices of those seeking our destruction. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedom,” said Netanyahu.
A Jewish leader stood Tuesday before 300 survivors of the Nazis’ most notorious death camp and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe.
Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau
He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists.
“For a time, we thought that the hatred of Jews had finally been eradicated. But slowly the demonization of Jews started to come back,” Lauder said. “Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes on the streets of Paris and Budapest and London. Once again, Jewish businesses are targeted. And once again, Jewish families are fleeing Europe.”
Europe also saw a spasm of anti-Semitism last summer during the war in Gaza, with protests in Paris turning violent and other hostility across the continent.
“This vilification of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth, quickly became an opportunity to attack Jews,” Lauder said. “Much of this came from the Middle East, but it has found fertile ground throughout the world.”
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