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Israel, in Rare Admission, Confirms Strike on Iranian Targets in Syria

Israeli officials have acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes against weapons convoys and Iranian targets in Syria, but they have traditionally refused to confirm or deny responsibility for specific attacks immediately after they take place, to avoid pushing the other side into having to retaliate.

The new confidence on display on Sunday may stem from the paucity of responses so far, both to the strikes in Syria and to the dismantling of tunnels from Lebanon.

In interviews marking his departure, General Eisenkot expressed pride in the policy known as the “campaign between the wars,” including continued efforts to curb Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and said Israel had struck thousands of targets there.

Mr. Netanyahu, who, in addition to being prime minister is serving as defense minister and foreign minister, among other roles, would stand to benefit from projecting the image of being tough about security ahead of the April 9 election, even as he faces possible bribery charges.

His opponents had accused him of over-dramatizing the anti-tunnel operation and of fear-mongering to distract the public’s attention after the Israeli police recommended that Mr. Netanyahu be indicted on bribery, fraud and other charges in a third corruption case against him.

Regarding the disclosure about the attack in Syria, Omer Bar-Lev, a lawmaker in the opposition Labor party, wrote on Twitter on Sunday, “It’s a shame and disgrace that the prime minister is violating the policy of ambiguity that was appropriate for the last three years in the campaign between the wars in Syria, for political purposes.”

Avi Dichter, a lawmaker in Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party and a former security chief, dismissed any political motives, saying in a radio interview: “ Israel has a great interest in creating deterrence. Some deterrence is better achieved with ambiguity, some deterrence is better achieved with open statements.”

It was a busy last weekend on the job for General Eisenkot. The Israeli military struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday and Saturday night after Palestinian protests and attempts to breach the border fence, during which a Palestinian woman was killed by Israeli sniper fire, and after Gaza militants fired a rocket into Israel.

Source: NYT > World

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