In an unusual move the European Union stood against Iran and defended Israel’s right to launch self-defensive strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
“Israel has the right to defend itself,” the EU said on Thursday night after Israel struck 50 Iranian targets in Syria early that morning, that killed three people.
Israel retaliated in response to an overnight strike, in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force fired 20 rockets towards the Golan Heights that did not enter Israeli territory.
The Syrian Army Command said Israel’s attack killed three people and injured two others. A Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes killed at least 23 military personnel, including Syrians and non-Syrians.
It was the largest exchange of fire between Israel and Iran since the start of the Syrian Civil war and the largest Israeli attack against military targets in Syria in decades. It stoked international fears of a war between Israel and Iran in Syria.
The EU spoke out hours after the United Kingdom, Germany and France issued similar statement. While the EU often talk globally about Israel’s right to defend itself, it is rare that they and the EU issue such wall-to-wall support for the Jewish state’s military actions in response to a specific incident such as this one.
The Syrian foreign ministry said the Israeli attack indicated “the start of a new phase of aggression” against Damascus.
The EU said the exchange of fire was “extremely worrying” and called “on all regional actors to show restraint and avoid any escalation, which could further undermine regional stability.”
The French Foreign Ministry said its country had an “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security” and that it “condemns any attempt to undermine it.”
Similar to the EU it called on both Israel and Iran to exercise restrain. But at the same time the French Foreign Ministry also demanded that “Iran refrain from any military provocation” and “warned it against any temptation toward regional hegemony.”