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US Backs Israeli Response to Iran Rocket Attack after Israel Pounds Iranian Targets in Syria

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JERUSALEM, Israel – The United States said Israel has a right to defend itself after Iran launched rocket attacks against Israel overnight and Israel struck back.  

Shortly after midnight, the Iranian Quds Force based in Syria launched 20 rockets at Israel's Golan Heights. But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the attack had failed.

"The Iranians tried to attack Israel's sovereign territory. No Iranian missile hit Israeli territory. All fell in Syria or were intercepted by the Iron Dome. No one was hurt; no structure or infrastructure was damaged," Lieberman said.

Iron Dome Anti-Missile Battery

IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, described the attack from a position near the Syrian border.

"They sent 20 rockets from an Iranian vehicle, a multi-barrel vehicle, which were targeting the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] positions that you can see here, the first line of IDF positions on the Golan Heights," Coricus explained  

"Twenty rockets were fired. Four of them were on a trajectory to hit IDF positions. They were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and the rest fell short inside Syrian territory," he said.

Israel Responds 'Accordingly'

In response, the IDF said Israeli fighter jets carried out dozens of airstrikes against Iranian military targets inside Syria, including intelligence sites, munition storage warehouses at the Damascus airport and a logistics headquarters.

"We have made it very clear that we are here to defend ourselves. Those who started this round of violence were the Iranians who attacked Israel. We responded accordingly, and we are now waiting to see how the Iranians will respond," Cornicus said.

The IDF released a video clip showing the Iranian multi-barrel rocket launcher leaving a military base and eventually being bombed by Israel -- partially captured on a camera in the nose of the bomb.  

Video from Syria reportedly showed the interception of Israeli bombs. Syrian media reported more than 20 killed.

Ball in Iran's Court

Reserve Brig. Gen. Nitzan Nuriel, former head of the Prime Minister's Office Counter-Terrorism Bureau, said the ball is now in the Iranian court.

"They need to decide if they want to increase the friction and for example ask Hezbollah to do something or they understand that at that stage they cannot take actions against us and they need to wait and if this is the case that will be the end of that round. That will be the end of that very short and aggressive conflict," Nuriel told journalists in a briefing.

Iranian expert Ronen Bergman told CBN News Israel's intelligence services have one main concern.  

"They would tell you without hesitation our main concern is the Iranian deployment in Syria," Bergman said. "This is what we are concerned of – because Iran is trying to build for itself and for Hezbollah a second front."

After the attack, schools were open and life returned to normal on Israel's Golan Heights on Thursday. Despite the timing of the incident, analysts say it's a separate issue from President Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and Israel is ready to prevent Iran from taking root in Syria.

"It's a bit of paradox but the president's announcement about the deal is not really connected to the friction we are seeing in the last few days around the Golan Heights.  It all comes from Iran, but it's a totally different front," Nuriel said.

"I don't think that the Iranians will ask Hezbollah to participate [in] that conflict because they know what may be the results of Hezbollah participating. I believe if Hezbollah made the mistake and they will take actions they will pay a very heavy price. And I'm not so sure the Iranians want to lose Hezbollah as their major proxy in the northern side of Israel," he added.

War with Iran?

Still, many are concerned Israel is headed toward a direct war with Islamic regime. CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell says a war is already happening.

"They basically are at war. It's a low-grade war right now and Israel reportedly has been striking Iranian targets inside Syria several times in the last few weeks. There's talk of war almost daily here in Israeli newspapers," Mitchell said.

Israel struck suspected Iranian targets in Syrian just hours after Trump announced the United States' withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

The missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard in Kisweh, killing at least 15 people, eight of them Iranians.

Mitchell says Iran has been trying to fill the power vacuum inside Syria and establish military bases there. However, the regime faces a "determined Israel" that's doing everything to make sure Iran does not have a military stronghold in the neighboring nation.

"They don't want Iranian military bases on its northern border so that's why you hear reports of Israeli planes striking surface to surface Iranian missiles inside Syria," he shared.

United Front Against Iran

Meanwhile, Israel has made some unlikely friends like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States.

"There's an underground, unspoken relationship between the Jewish state and these Sunni nations. So they see themselves as a united front against an Iran that really does want to dominate the Middle East," Mitchell explains.

Whether or not there will be a full-blown direct war between Iran and Israel is uncertain. But Mitchell said that in either case the United States has sent a strong message to everyone in the region that it stands with Israel.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism, then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91, and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the