"The IDF carried out a very wide-ranging attack against Iranian targets in Syria," the prime minister continued. "Thanks to the proper preparations by our forces—both offensively and defensively—the Iranian action failed. No rocket landed in Israel. The people of Israel are proud of the IDF and confident in its abilities."
The conflict, the premier said, has been protracted, but Israeli policy remained steadfast—to prevent Iran from military entrenchment in Syria. "I delivered a clear message to the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime: Our action is directed against Iranian targets in Syria. However, if the Syrian military acts against us, we will act against it," he warned.
Netanyahu continued, "This is exactly what happened yesterday—Syrian military batteries fired surface-to-air missiles against us and, therefore, we attacked them. The international community needs to prevent the Iranian Quds Force from establishing itself in Syria.
"We need to unite in order to cut off its spreading tentacles of evil there and everywhere. I repeat: Whoever hurts us, we will hurt them sevenfold, and whoever is preparing to hurt us, we will act to hit them first. This is what we have done and this is what we will continue to do."
Thursday's Cabinet meeting was also attended by Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, even though she is not a regular member of Cabinet or an observer therein. A source close to the minister said she was invited to attend by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The ministers received telephone updates throughout the day regarding the IDF's activities in the north, with the prime minister and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said to have received their full backing.
The ministers also received a report on the retaliatory strike's results and discussed preparations for possible Iranian counter-attacks.
President Rivlin: Iranian entrenchment most significant threat to Israel
President Reuven Rivlin also commented on the night's strike in Syria during a speech at the Interdisciplinary Center's annual conference in Herzliya, in which he said that Israelis woke to a relaxing morning of all of the army's pilots returning home safely, which he said was not a foregone conclusion.
"Alongside the pride and satisfaction," he qualified, "we should all remember: we cannot foresee the ending of this period." Israelis should therefore carry on calmly, the president said.
On Israel's burgeoning conflict with Iran, Rivlin said it would be protracted. "The Islamic Republic of Iran—as expressed in the archival documents brought to light by Mossad and intelligence operatives so bravely—poses the greatest risk to world peace, and Israel's peace in particular."
Israel, the president stated, was determined to prevent Iranian attainment of nuclear weapons, and will not allow its enemy to take root near its borders, in Syria or in Lebanon.
"The threat of Iranian entrenchment in Syria, alongside arming Hezbollah and Hamas, comprises the immediate and most disconcerting threat Israel faces these days," Rivlin went on to say.
"The Iranians are right here on the border, the threat is here and when it comes down to it, all of its meanings and implications are lurking before us. We have been burdened with this campaign—both the IDF and Israel's citizenry," he added.
While Israel did not seek escalation, President Rivlin did say that "in a complex reality in flux, escalation may be a matter of days or even hours. The higher the price an action will exact, the broader the legitimacy it will require, necessitating dialogue and updates flowing from the government to the opposition and the Knesset's different committees."
Bennett: Mistakes of Lebanon will not be repeated
Other ministers spoke about the most significant item currently on Israel's agenda Thursday, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who told ambassadors and deputy ambassadors that Israel expected their support against "Iran's nuclear and military ambitions. The future must not be sold off for short-term calm."
Since 2000, Bennett told the assembled diplomats, Israel's strategy was predicated on the hope that Hezbollah's rockets would rust, which only led to the Lebanese terror group growing in power and becoming a significant threat to Israel.
Now, with Iran attempting to entrench in Syria, Bennett said Israel will not repeat the mistakes of Lebanon. "We are prepared to initiate a low-grade conflict in the present to prevent a far more significant threat in the future," he explained.
Another minister weighing in on the matter was Housing Minister Yoav Galant, who said, "Israel has come across an opportunity to uproot Iran from Syria and we plan on taking advantage of that opportunity."
"We are prepared for any move to sever that arm. I propose to not speak of ideas and operations. The facts are simple: Iran is entrenching in Syria and if we don't act now, while it is not yet immersed, the price will be heavy," he cautioned.