The group has positioned itself within touching distance of Israel’s northern border in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a territory Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. Hezbollah accuses Israel of conducting targeted assassinations of its senior commanders in Syria, but Israel does not comment on its military operations.

“You ask about the future of [Israel’s] relations with President Assad? I would ask what is the future of President Assad in general?” Netanyahu said to Russian Jewish leaders on a June 2016 visit to Moscow. “We do not interfere in this issue. We’re making sure that Syria won’t become a launchpad for attacks against Israel.”

When Donald Trump authorized a strike against a Syrian regime airfield in response to a suspected chemical attack on civilians in the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun last month, Netanyahu supported the military action. The Israeli leader has also tacitly blamed Assad for chemical attacks against the Syrian people, calling for such weapons to be removed for the country.

Israel is concerned that both Hezbollah and Iran—which it believes is attempting to establish a “Shia crescent” across the Middle East from Tehran to Damascus—are increasing their stake in Syria, threatening its borders. Iran’s conservative religious leadership regularly calls for Israel’s destruction.