After Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
that Syrian President Bashar Assad
will lose his power should he provoke Israel,
recent reports of advanced missiles being transferred
have led to more serious threats being made.
"We will return Syria back to the Stone Age," an Israeli minister was quoted as saying in British paper, the Sunday Times. The paper reported that this sentiment was communicated to Damascus via a third party.
According to the report, the minister, speaking off the record, warned last week that Israel will do so by "crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us."
The reason behind increasing tensions in the Israel-Syria arena broke last week in a report in Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Rai, that the Syrian military trained members of Hezbollah in how to fire advanced Scud ballistic missiles. In response, it has been reported that Israel directed pointed warnings to Syria via Turkey and Qatar that it will attack targets in Syria and Lebanon if the missiles reach Hezbollah.
On this backdrop, the Syrian minister in Washington was summoned for a warning.
Washington has voiced contradictory viewpoints on the Scud issue. The State Department reported that they are "very concerned" by reports of the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah. However, over the weekend, senior administration officials expressed doubt
as to whether the Scuds really made their way across the border Syria-Lebanon border.
According to the report in the Sunday Times, Israel "now regards Hezbollah as a division of the Syrian army and that reprisals against Syria will be fast and devastating."
As such, Israel has decided to hold Syria directly responsible for Hezbollah's activities following intelligence assessments that Beirut has lost control over the strengthening Shi'ite organization. Until now, Israel has said that Lebanon will be responsible for any attack made by Hezbollah on Israel.
“We’ll not hesitate to attack Syria if our national security is in jeopardy,” said the same Israeli minister. “Assad knows that, and he’s playing with fire.”