Israel aims to stay out of Syria’s civil war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, despite its recent attacks on targets inside the country.
“Israel is not getting involved in the civil war in Syria, as long as the fire is not directed at us,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in broadcast remarks on Sunday.
His comments came a week after fierce fighting erupted between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and opposition rebels near the UN-patrolled armistice line of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Sunday marked the 46-year anniversary since Israel first occupied the territory during the 1967 war.
Israel has conducted at least three air strikes on suspected Syrian depots for weaponry in transit to its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon, and its forces have occasionally shelled Syrian positions in response to shooting at the Israeli side of the Golan.
Austria, a major contributor to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, said last week it would withdraw its troops from Golan due to the worsening fighting in Syria, putting the mission in doubt.
“The crumbling of the UN force on the Golan drives home the fact that Israel cannot rely on international forces for its security,” Netanyahu said.
He said he would raise the issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry, expected to return to the region in the coming week to try to revive talks on Palestinian statehood.
Israeli cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said: “We are seeing now what the Austrian forces on the Golan Heights are worth.
“Israel cannot trust international forces and sometimes, as it happens, their presence during crises is more burdensome than useful.”
(Agencies via Aljazeera.com)