Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Thursday appeared to confirm reports that Israel was behind an overnight airstrike near the Damascus airport.
Katz, who is also transportation minister, told Army Radio in an interview Thursday morning that “the incident is completely compatible with our policy of preventing weapons transfer to Hezbollah,” the Lebanon-based terror group supported by the Syrian regime and Iran.
“Every time we receive intelligence information on plans to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, we will act,” the minister added. “We must prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria.”
Explosions rocked the area around Damascus’s airport earlier on Thursday morning, setting off fires. Syria’s state media SANA said Israel fired several missiles from inside the Golan Heights south of the capital at a military installation near the capital’s main airport, triggering several blasts and causing damage.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
An unnamed regional intelligence source, quoted by Reuters, said the strike was carried out by Israel and targeted an Iran-supplied Hezbollah arms depot.
The Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar news site also attributed the raid to the Jewish state, saying an initial missile strike against a weapons warehouse belonging to government forces caused fuel silos to explode, leading to a cascade of explosions that damaged a few nearby homes.
Explosions were also reported in the Al-Mazzeh area of the Syrian capital, apparently at the Mazzeh Air Base, a military airstrip used by regime forces.
Israel is widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as Hezbollah positions, but it rarely confirms such operations on an individual basis.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday announced it will no longer pay Israel for the electricity it provides to the Gaza Strip, in a move that will certainly increase the suffering of local residents.
The message was delivered to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai.
Israel supplies Gaza with about 30% of its electricity—125 Megawatts—through ten lines, at a cost of about $11 million a month, which Israel takes out of the taxes it collects on behalf of the PA.
The PA Thursday announcement is yet another step in the escalating struggle over control of the Gaza Strip between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas.
What may come next is a far-reaching ultimatum to Hamas, to come under the wings of the PA again or risk losing a complete stop of all PA payments.
When faced with the consequent crisis that will no doubt result from this move, the Hamas is likely to channel social frustration and suffering into attacks on Israel, in a desperate attempt to elicit financial support from the Gulf States.
The move is one of a series of measures taken recently by the PA, aimed at forcing Hamas to either take full responsibility for the territory it governs, or to relinquish control back to the PA.
The PA’s power play comes during an existing energy crisis, after Hamas refused to buy fuel from the PA for the enclave’s only power plant.
Currently, the energy shortage in Gaza has left the Strip’s residents with as little as four hours of power a day.
The World Bank said on Thursday the power cuts have led to a “humanitarian crisis,” hitting hospitals, clinics, water supply and other vital services, as well as household needs.
Without energy provided by Israel, it is unclear how Gaza can maintain even its current scarce levels of electricity.
Israel has been providing Gaza energy through 10 power lines, supplying 125 megawatts, which is 30 percent of the amount needed to power Gaza 24 hours a day.
An IDF force fired two artillery shells at a Hamas position east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip Thursday afternoon, Israel Radio and Arab media reported.
According to Ma’an, the two shells were fired at a “resistance position near the borderline.” No resister was hurt.
According to Israel Radio, the incident began when Arabs from the Gaza side of the border started shooting at an IDF force that was carrying out a routine assignment near the border fence in the Gaza Strip.
An IDF tank destroyed a Hamas position in the central Gaza Strip, after shots were fired at Israeli troops operating near the security fence on Thursday morning, the army said.
No one was injured, and no damage was caused by the gunshots at the Israeli soldiers, according to the military.
No terrorist group immediately took credit for the attack. But the IDF targeted a Hamas post, in accordance with Israeli policy that sees the terrorist group, which rules the Strip, as ultimately responsible for any attack from the coastal enclave.
The troops were “carrying out routine activities near the border” when they came under fire, the army said.
They were on the Israeli side of the fence at the time of the attack, an IDF spokesperson said.
A short while after the gunshots were fired, the Israeli tank targeted the Hamas site in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, according to the terrorist group.
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