At a closed-door meeting with eastern European leaders in Budapest on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that his nation struck Iranian arms convoys “dozens of times” in Syria. The rare admission was captured by an open microphone and accidentally transmitted to journalists’ headphones, Israel’s local Haaretz newspaper reported. While Israel has typically refrained from intervening in the Syrian civil war, the Israeli air force has been suspected of using airstrikes to target Hezbollah, an Islamist militant group based in Lebanon, and other Iran-backed forces that support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu told the leaders of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic that Israeli strikes had targeted Iranian weapons shipments traveling to Hezbollah. “We blocked the border not only in Egypt but in the Golan Heights [in southwest Syria],” he said. “We built the wall because there was a problem with ISIS and Iran trying to build a terror front there. I told [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, when we see them transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we will hurt them. We did it dozens of times.”
For the most part, Israel has declined to comment about its actions in Syria, admitting only to a few military strikes. In June, the nation’s military spokesman said the Israeli air force hit three Syrian army targets after Syrian projectiles landed in Israeli-controlled territory in Golan Heights. Two months earlier, the army vaguely admitted to targeting pro-Syrian government forces in Golan Heights’s Syrian-controlled territory. Around the same time, Syrian rebel forces said Israel struck a Hezbollah arms depot near the Damascus International Airport. “We can’t comment on such reports,” a spokeswoman for the Israeli military said, though the military later confirmed hitting an unspecified “target.”