Israeli media and officials are fueling the current escalation over Syria.
“If the Iranians act against Israel from Syrian territory, it will be Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government that will pay the price,” senior Israeli defense officials were quoted by the country’s media on April 11. “Assad’s regime and Assad himself will disappear from the map and the world if the Iranians do try to harm Israel or its interests from Syrian territory.”
“Our recommendation to Iran is that it does not try to act, because Israel is determined to continue on this issue to the very end.”
The comments came in response to claims by Iranian officials to retaliate to the recent Israeli strike on the T4 airbase in Syria where some Iranian servicemembers were killed.
On April 10 Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel will take all necessary steps to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military base in Syria.
“No matter what the price, we will not allow Iran to have a permanent [military] foothold in Syria. We have no other choice,” Liberman said.
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, a former head of IDF Intelligence and currently the director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, called on April 8 for direct actions:
“As we approach Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah, Israel should clarify that it takes a moral stance against killers who use weapons of mass murder against civilians. In this instance, Israel’s values and its strategic interests both point in that direction,” Yadlin tweeted. “[Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s squadron of helicopters that drop barrel bombs should be grounded once and for all. Even without poison gas, these vehicles are used to launch inaccurate explosives that inflict terror and death on Syrian civilians.”
Separately, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former commander of the IDF Southern Command, vowed to assasinate Assad:
“The world will be a better place without Assad. Five days before Holocaust Memorial Day, the world has once again received a horrific reminder from Syria. The butcher of Damascus is still here and still using poison gas to murder women and children without mercy.
“World leaders must intervene – and fast,” Galant said.