"Whoever hurts us, we will strike at him sevenfold", Netanyahu said in a video clip recorded after a meeting of his security cabinet concluded at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. Until now such occasions had been given maximum publicity to help create the impression that Iran was entrenched in Syria and preparing for the destruction of Israel with the help of Hezbollah, the Islamic Jihad in Palestine and Hamas.
Just one hour after Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, Israel launched missiles against targets south of Damascus, Syria, reportedly killing 15 people, at least 8 of them Iranians.
The Israeli military said Thursday it attacked dozens of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in response to an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, in the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date.
He said on Twitter: "Iranian Quds force fired 20 rockets towards forward IDF (Israeli Defence Force) positions on Golan Heights". European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal was not a decision that could be taken exclusively by the U.S.
Iran has denied any involvement.
In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called the strikes a "blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty".
He added: "I hope that we have finished this chapter and that everyone got the message". "We have no desire to escalate".
But he insisted Israel had "no interest in escalation" of the situation. "The Israeli claim was made to portray its attacks on Syria as an attempt to contain Iran, thus winning the approval of the United States and the Saudis", Moustapha explained.
The military escalation comes at a worrying time, after the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal with active support from the Israeli government.
In a rare public gesture by an Arab government, Bahrain expressed its support for the Israeli air raids.
Israel's military chief of staff says later his country is prepared to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to face Iran's plans "to control the Middle East". It had begun launching direct attacks on Israel in contrast to Iran's older pattern of aggression, which was based on activating proxy attacks.
The Intercept learned the outlines of the safe-zone expansion plan through a monthslong investigation relying on information from a variety of sources, including Syrian opposition activists on the ground in the south, Syrian opposition figures based in Jordan, Syrian government sources, and an Israeli-American NGO directly involved in the safe-zone project.
Despite a remarkable display of Israeli military capabilities, this is no time to be complacent.
Speaking about the retaliation, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Israeli Defence Forces had "hit nearly all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have called for a de-escalation in tensions in the Middle East after the attacks.
The Israeli strikes were the country's most significant military action in neighbouring Syria since the war started in 2011.